In the Eastern Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Wycliffe Australia's Matt Torrens organized a trauma healing workshop in 2020. The course, which helps traumatized people apply God's Word to their pain and brokenness, brought together people from two warring villages in PNG. A ceasefire had been in place, but it had been broken. A dozen lives had been lost, six on each side. The future for the region looked grim. Yet, when the village leaders heard what God’s Word says about His mercy and forgiveness, their hearts were transformed.
Two verses in Romans brought revelation to both sides, instructing them to “never pay back evil with more evil” but to “do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:17-18, NLT).
“As they were taking their burdens to the cross,” says Matt, “leaders from both sides stood up and said, ‘Now we know that retribution is in God’s hands.’ It was a clear signal of their mutual desire to stop “getting even” with each other.
Leaders from a local church involved in new ceasefire agreements have been trained in using the Healing the Wounds of Trauma material, should any tensions arise in the future. The community also recognized that the healing between the tribes took place during the time that PNG's new prime minister, James Marape, called for three weeks of prayer and fasting for the nation.
“We all agreed that it was God’s timing that they were completing the workshop,” says Matt, “and were now able to reconcile as a community.”
Matt says that after reconciliation had taken place, a brilliant rainbow appeared and stretched out over the two villages.
“It was like God was smiling on us, reminding us all of His mercy and faithfulness.”
Since agreeing in 2020 to live in peace with one another, the villagers have continued down the path to reconciliation.
“We have heard from multiple people who thanked us,” says Matt, “as they see the change that has continued to take place in both villages.”
One woman shared that she had not been to town since the conflict had flared up. Because of her fear of people from the neighbouring village, she had limited her movements between her garden and her house.
“As we were finishing up one day,” Matt recalls, “she grabbed hold of me with tears streaming down her cheeks and said she was going to go to town the next day for the first time in over 12 months. And even though she would have to walk through the area of their former enemies, she had a peace and confidence that God was with her and that He would look after her.”
Another woman recently shared that on the last morning of the trauma healing workshop as she was leaving her house to come and teach, the Lord laid on her heart to bring a jar containing old cucumber seeds. She had already tried planting them in her garden, but they were too old and had not sprouted. Nevertheless, she felt God nudge her to take them anyway, so she took them in obedience.
“Seeds carry a significant value in PNG,” says Matt. “She gave them to a few different ladies, not expecting anything from the seeds. Later though, one of the ladies came and found her at the market and said, ‘Remember me? Those seeds you gave me, they are carrying beautiful big cucumbers!'
“Our colleague wept for joy, seeing it as a sign from God as to what He is doing in those villages. Out of what seemed dead and an impossibility, He is still able to bring about new life.”
Source: Wycliffe Australia. Adapted from an article by Deb Fox.