The above picture is my language helper Fororens with my namesake, Kasdi. In our last few meetings together, Fororens has been explaining some of the thoughts that surround the custom of naming a new baby. We have seen that generally babies’ names are picked about two weeks to a month after the baby is born. As we have been discussing rationale behind naming, Fororens explained that sometimes a parent will pick a new name that they like, name their child after another person because that person recently gave them something, or name them after a visitor so the visitor will be remembered after they are gone (this is the case with my namesake).
However, sometimes, she says, the new baby will cry all day and all night and the parents will know that a spirit has come and is “holding” the baby. They believe this spirit is likely the spirit of a dead ancestor whose name is being forgotten, so the parents will call the baby by several names in the hopes of appeasing whatever spirit is causing the child to cry. When the baby stops crying, they know that they have found the correct name. The spirit now has a namesake and is satisfied, and thus will go back to it’s spirit place until it is upset again. This is just one of several ways in which spirits here are feared by the men and women of the village. They believe angry spirits have the power to hurt or even kill.
We do not yet understand their language well enough to delve deeply into spiritual matters, but we have yet to hear anything about a spirit who cares for, loves, or protects people. For them, the supernatural world is either hostile or neutral, but never amicable. This is why we have come to the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea. We are part of God’s work to display His greatness and goodness through Jesus to people who live in fear! Please continue to labor alongside us in prayer – that our ministry would be effective, that our language skills would grow quickly, and that more laborers would come to villages in other language groups.