In times past, the Binumarien people of Papua New Guinea would paint their faces with black ashes, wear pig teeth necklaces, and even put pigs teeth in their mouths when going to war with other tribes. Many also carried string bags filled with arrows on their backs and carried a bow in their hands, while others carried spears. The head of the spear was made from a hard wood palm tree trunk. The shaft of the spear was made from long thick bush grass. The men would stand together and shout to the enemy to come out and fight them.
By 1958, the Binumarien population had dropped to 111 people because of tribal fighting and diseases. However, since receiving the New Testament in their language in 1984, many of the people have been changed through God’s Word. Tribal fighting has become less common, and their population has steadily increased.
In 2017, people from another tribe up the valley started to build gardens on Binumarien land. The Binumariens told them to leave and to build gardens on their own land.
One Binumarien man had a house at the top of the mountain. When he went home one evening, the other tribe attacked him. After hearing this, some of the Binumarien men armed themselves with bows and arrows and fought against the invaders for a full day. The following day, the fight was to continue. The Binumariens would be seriously outnumbered and possibly wiped out. The elders in the village gathered the people together and told them there would be no more fighting. They called for everyone to spend the day praying, asking the Lord for help.
All day they expected to see the other tribe coming down the mountain. But it never happened. They later learned that their enemies had become confused and began fighting amongst themselves, killing 10 of their own men.
“Now we are following God’s light and we no longer get up and fight,” said Namondi Unare, who led a team that worked on a recent revision of the translated Scriptures. “God has protected us and we are doing well and prospering. God is our fortress.
“When there was a call for battle everyone used to say, ‘Let’s go!’ Now people aren’t wanting to fight. They just stay and pray to God. They say it’s not alright to kill people or steal or lie.”
Many times God has protected them from tribal warfare as they have learned to trust him and have grown in their faith. The Binumariens now have a new weapon, the weapon of prayer.
Adapted from a story by Janeen Michie with Doug Oatridge