“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
Last week, we were privileged to see and learn about yet more ways God is working around the clock to redeem all things to himself all over the world, as Darrow spent a week in northeastern Australia at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) base in Townsville. He spoke to about 60 YWAM leaders from 15 nations, most delegates coming from Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), and witnessed the Lord moving mightily in the hearts and minds of these young culture makers.
Through them, God is binding physical wounds all over PNG, and that week, he bound deep emotional and spiritual wounds among the conference participants.
“It was what I call being on holy ground,” when you cannot deny the presence and power of God’s Spirit in the room, Darrow says of one particular morning session that week. A similar event took place during his teaching time in Brazil two years ago.
After receiving Darrow’s teaching on the dignity of women and the maternal heart of God, one man from Papua New Guinea stood and asked the other Papuan men to join him. They invited Papuan women to come forward and, confessing how reprehensibly women are traditionally treated in Papuan society, asked for the women’s forgiveness. The group stood for several minutes, heads bowed, as God reshaped their hearts and minds on this issue paramount to the building of healthy societies.
“Men and women were in tears,” Darrow recalls of that morning. “Men stood and asked the females in their lives to forgive them for the way they had related to women, for their demanding words and actions. Women extended forgiveness. As they witnessed genuine repentance and extended heartfelt forgiveness, they were released from years of oppression and bondage. It was one of those remarkable times in life when God led us to holy ground.”
To read Darrow’s full account of this morning, visit his blog.
After this, a non-Papuan man stood and confessed how he personally had treated women poorly, not honoring them as he should. He asked if any woman present who had experienced poor treatment from a man would be willing to let him wash her feet as a sign of repentance. One woman came forward, and the man stooped in powerful vulnerability, washing her feet.
The week was “a significant time of God’s revelation and a journey to healing for PNG men and women,” said Dr. Sarah Dunn, a leader on YWAM’s Medical Ship, explained below.
Here is a short testimony from one Papuan woman describing what she learned about herself that week:
“PNG is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, with an estimated 70 percent of women experiencing rape or assault in their lifetime,” says Human Rights Watch. This distressing reality was corroborated by the YWAM staff from PNG that week, and many of them made commitments to actively dispel through their ministries the lie that women are inferior to men.
The power of this lie to destroy people is plainly seen in a photographic collection by Vlad Sokhin called Crying Meri (“meri” means “women” PNG’s most widely used language). You may view the collection here, but please be advised it is very graphic and unsettling.
YWAM in Papua New Guinea
At the left with Darrow is Elijah, mangi blo Gerehu (a young man from Gerehu, a notorious settlement in PNG’s capital city, Port Moresby), presenting Darrow with a bilum (traditional gift for an honored guest–placed over your head, like he did). Elijah is a young Christian leader from one of the toughest slums of Port Moresby. He represents the future hope of his people.
“It was a real honor to receive this bilum from him,” Darrow says.
From the Port of Townsville, YWAM’s Medical Ship, a former cruise ship, transports up to 100 volunteers to areas of PNG without medical service.
To learn more about YWAM’s work in PNG, click here.