Christian Missionaries in West Papua:
Life Histories of the Papuans

cartoon, sheep by river
<-- continued from page 1

2. They do not allow women to speak in public

I have been active in church activities since my childhood. My mother was the first of the original nine people who became Christian in my tribe and she was the first and the only woman among 8 men.

I had been attending my meetings in churches and noticed that all the time, my father was speaking to the people and talking in front of the churches. But at home, my mother had very good ideas and she gave a lot of advice to my father. One time I was sitting beside my mother, I think I was about 7 or 8 years old at that time. She was talking with my father and giving some advice. I woke up from laying down on her .... and asked them both, "But why can't mummy speak to the people rather than giving advice all the time to Daddy and spending lots of time to do this?"

Then my mother straight away replied to me, "Eh, you don't know, the missionaries do not allow mothers to speak in public gatherings!" And my father noded "Yes!" approving what my mother said. This made me sad, because I knew what was happening between my father and my mother and that women speak in public in my culture. My father opened a verse in the Bible, it was in the letter from Apostle Paul to Timothy. Then he referred to Old Testament as well. And my father told me, "These are the reasons why women are not allowed at all!"

Even today, the women are slaves of the men in churches in Papua, if I would like to use modern terms. Their task in churches is mainly to pray in their prayer groups for the men, clean the yards of the church, and tidy up the church floors before and after church services. They can teach in Sunday Schools but not in public meetings.

Women are allowed to go to colleges, but when they return to their churches, they cannot become the church leaders or priests. They cannot hold official positions in the churches.

I did some research and I found out one thing interesting for me to tell you. All churches originating from the USA do not allow women at all. All churches originating from Australia do not encourage women to play the same roles as men at all. Most churches originating from Europe do encourage and allow women to hold key positions in the churches. Now you can guess which churches I am talking about, right?

Part 3: They arrogantly forbid many of our cultural beliefs -->

Missionaries Homepage