IF you were to ask someone about Enga province, you would probably hear it is known as valley of tears, land of bloodshed, tribal fighting zone, Engans are aggressive, etc.
The fact is basic services and goods hardly reach the people due to continuous tribal fights.
A first timer travelling up to Wabag, the capital of Enga, will be surprised to see at least 10km, from Akom to Rakamanda, covered with tall elephant grasses and vines.
What was once a home to more than 15 clans with high covenant buildings such as health centres, technical vocational school, churches, high school, DPI station, NBC transmitters and stores, is now grassland.
The infrastructures were destroyed as a result of outstanding money not being repaid on time by a debtor after purchasing cow meat sold on the road side.
This conflict started at Rakamanda village, the home of the Tsankin tribe of the Yakan clan.
Families took sides and the headquarters of the Seventh-Day Adventist church in Enga which was set up in 1947 by Pr FT Maberly was razed in 2003.
Millions of kina worth of properties owned by the SDA church were burnt.
Now, what you can see is just ruins of the former Enga paradise.
Many people travelling up and down the road would say God had laid a curse upon these people.
However, I would say this is not true.
On Dec 13-19 last month, two trainee SDA pastors from the Pacific Adventist University – Steven Moses and Ezra Minnala – ran a week-long spiritual revival meeting for the Tsankin people with the theme: “Has Yahweh forsaken me?”
At the end of the meeting, 31 young people made the decision to repent for their sins and were baptised on Dec 19.
Amongst the group was Larsen Talian, the man once known as one of the ring leader in the long tribal conflict.
As our usual Adventist custom, after baptism, we often invite non-Adventists who want to follow the same footsteps as the 31 candidates and asked them to stand in line.
To my surprise, the line went on and on and I estimated there were about 350 men, women and children.
Among them were Kainakali Buakao, Kuli Erepae, Luke Talian, Joseph Kamap and many leaders of the community.
I was asked to come again this December to run a major evangelistic crusade so that all these people can undergo water baptism.
The following day, Dec 20, we called all the people together and established a working committee to restore law and order in Rakamanda.
It was the fist time in seven years John Lanio (Tsanis chief) and Kainakali Buakao (Tsanis-Yapamkin chief) shook hands and buried the hatchet.
We all tearfully shook hands as these leaders agreed to reconcile.
Both expressed the same sentiments that they wanted peace and were fed up with tribal fighting.
The united Tsankins today have a vision to rebuild the SDA mission.
On behalf of the SDA members, I would like to thank all those who have supported this spiritual programme in cash or kind particularly, Ben and Rebecca Thomas of Pacific Adventist University, Tsankin community in Port Moresby and Enga.
Anyone who want to assist us or would like to know more about the progress can contact Pr Benjamin Pakau on 71761501, Kelly Plane on 72848532 or Larsen Talian on 72412559.
Our email address is [email protected]