Announcer:  Rebekah Pearl recounts the story of a boy in Papua New Guinea. From the time he was small, Gami Akij knew he was destined to be the leader of his people and learn to be a powerful sorcerer.

Michael Pearl:  You’re about to hear a true story told by Rebekah Joy Pearl, 23 years old, missionary to Papua New Guinea. Rebekah is the oldest child of Michael and Debi Pearl. This story was told at the July ’97 Youth Missions Camp, sponsored by the Church At Cane Creek.

Rebekah:   . . . to New Guinea, I fly to Los Angeles, California. Then, from Los Angeles to, probably, Brisbane or Sydney, Australia. That’s about a 16‑hour flight. Then, from there, to Port Moresby, the capital of New Guinea. From Port Moresby to Madang, which is a smaller coastal town. From Madang, you catch a helicopter or a bush plane to a grass airstrip in the Simbai District. From there, you walk six hours to the village. It takes about two or three days to make the entire trip.

Now, about 30 years ago in this island of Papua New Guinea, there was a village there in the Simbai District called Icram [sp].

Now, the leader of this village was a man named Akij. Sometimes I forget his name. He was the undisputed leader of his people. He was the eldest son of the eldest son, as far back as anybody could remember, and that made him the leader. When he was born, his father taught him all of the important things of their culture.

He was a mighty warrior, he knew how to shoot bow and arrow, he knew how to fight. He’d killed many, many people, he’d eaten his enemies, and he was a very feared man.

Now, Akij married a girl from the neighboring tribe. One day, his wife said to him, “Akij, we’re going to have a baby boy. When he is born, he’s going to be the future leader.”

To the Kumboi custom, when it came time for his wife to deliver, they went out into the jungle, far away from the village. There in the jungle, she delivered the baby on banana leaves. Akij held up his son and he said, “Gami, my son [speaks in foreign language], the leader has been born.”

From that day forward, he began to teach Gami everything about being a Kumboi leader. There in the Icram village, the trees are very large, big, they’re about the size of a car at the base, and they’re filled with bats in the top, bats with six-foot wingspans. They loved to eat bats. From a small child, Gami was taught how to shoot these bats and bring them home to eat. That was one of his favorite sports.

Also, in the jungle, up and down—mountains are about 7,000 feet altitude and the valleys go down so low that sometimes you find salt water pools that the ocean has come up through, just going straight up and down. He learned to hike those mountains; he learned where all the villages were. His father taught him how to make bows and arrows out of the hard wood they call blackwood. He taught him how to pray to the spirits.

As time went on, he got his favorite witch doctor there in the village to begin to teach Gami sorcery. The Kumboi culture was entirely wrapped up in sorcery. Nobody there ever died just by natural causes. It was always because someone had worked a spell on him and he died. Even if the guy had been sick with pneumonia for two years, nevertheless someone had worked a spell and given him pneumonia.

The people were just always in fear of offending somebody that had power with the spirits. Therefore Gami was taught to have greater power with the spirits as a leader, that he would be able to kill people with sorcery.

When he was about 13 years old his father said, “Gami, it’s time for you to become a man. It’s time for you to leave your mother’s house and move into the men’s house.” They had two different houses there in the village, one for the men, one for the women. He said, “Tonight we’re going to have the nose-piercing ritual for you, and you’re going to become a man and leave your mother’s house.”

That evening all the men of the village gathered. They painted their faces with white clay. They put the bird of paradise feathers in their hair and wore the green beetle’s dung across their forehead. They danced and they sang around the fire. Towards the climax of the party they grabbed Gami and they pulled out this part of his nose. They thrust a sharp bone through it and they pierced his nose. From then on he was considered a man. All the men of the village that he admired had that hole through their nose and that bone.

From that time forward he lived with his father in the men’s house. He began to learn the secrets of the men that they kept from the women, the secrets of sorcery and the spirits, the names of the spirits, where they live, and how to get in contact with them. He learned the fine art of killing people with different kinds of poison, how to mix it, how to give it, the spells to make. All of these very important things to the Kumboi leader he learned.

He loved his father very much and his father loved him. They were very close.

When he was 17 years old, a neighboring village, one night a man snuck over and he killed a man in the Kumboi village. The next morning when the people got up there was a man dead in their village. The men were angry, and they got up and they said, “We’re going to fight. This means war.” The women were screaming and wailing in terror. The men were making lots and lots of arrows and getting their bows out. The boys were excited. This was the first fight that they’d seen.

His father said, “Gami, this fight is going to prove you’re a man. You’re going to fight with me.” Sure enough, about three days later the villages met and they began to fight. Men and women were dying everywhere with bows and arrows and spears in their side. The women began to scream and run from the village.

Gami was beside his father, shooting bows and arrows. He realized, he looked around and he saw his uncles fall in battle and his brothers fall in battle. He realized that they were losing.

Soon his father got wounded. He cried out, “Gami, we’re going to lose. Let’s run.” They began to run and run. They ran for hours through the dark jungle at night until they got far enough away they could stop and rest. They’re at another place called [foreign language]. They stopped and they counted their people. Many and many of them were dead. They’d been run off their land. They’d lost the battle. Gami began to look around and he said, “Father, where’s Mother?” They couldn’t find her that night. The next day, they went looking and they found her with an arrow in her side.

Gami’s mother was dead. The people began to mourn. She was an important lady, the wife of the leader. They believed that her spirit would hover as long as her memory lasted. Therefore, they cut off her head, because they believed the spirit was in the skull. They saved that head. They kept it in the top of the hut for many years, because as long as this lady’s memory lasted, her spirit would stay in that skull.

Out of respect, they kept that skull, and they buried her body. They painted their bodies with white mud, until they looked like dead right out of the grave themselves. Their whole bodies were covered with mud, and they would wail [speaks in foreign language], “Our mother, our mother is dead.”

For years, the younger children—Leoni [sp] was the youngest; she was only two—they had a hard time, because the women there did most of the work. The mother did all the gardening, taking care of the pigs. Half of the people in the village were dead. They’d been run off of their village, so they didn’t have a place to live and no houses. They no longer had their gardens. For years it was a struggle just to stay alive.

It was a couple of years later, Akij said to Gami, he said “There’s not much of a people left here. We’ve lost our land.” He said, “My son, you will be the next leader. I am getting old. I’ve taught you everything I know. I’ve taught you how to kill, how to use sorcery. But” he said, “there’s nothing more I can teach you. Your people, they are going to need a great leader to help them win back their land. To help them take revenge on their enemy.”

He said, “I’ve heard that somewhere out by the coast, out there by the ocean . . .”

Now on a clear day, standing on our mountain you can see 80 miles out to the ocean and the volcanic islands out there. So the people who have never been off of their mountain, they know that there is water out there. They can see it.

He said, “I’ve heard that out there close to the water there’s a school for witch doctors. If you go there they can make you a mighty sorcerer, whom they call a priest.”

He said, “I’m going to sell all of my pigs and I’m going to take you down to the airstrip and ask that Australian pilot to take you to town.” That’s what he did. For the first time in his life Gami Akij walked into Lae, a coastal town there, and he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Announcer:  As always, we hope you are blessed by what you’ve heard today. And again, remember to check out our great weekly online specials.


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