Tribe That Formerly Practiced Witchcraft and Killed Missionaries Turns to God


The Yali Tribe in Papa New Guinea, which used to kill missionaries, practice witchcraft and engage in cannibalism, is now following God and graciously accepting 2,500 Bibles flown to them.

One-thousand four hundred of the Bibles were children’s Bibles, while the rest of them were regular Bibles. The Bibles came from Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a Christian organization that flies Bibles to areas that cannot receive them in other ways.

One of the Yali Tribe’s church ordered the Bibles after there were not enough to give to the Yali Tribe’s village, MAF reports. The Yali tribe were waiting for the plane to land and the women and children were celebrating by chanting in their local tongue and dancing.

One of the flight pilots, Dave Ringenberg, who is also an Instructor Pilot and the Director of Papua Operations, said that “It was a holy moment – one to be remembered.”

This flight took place 55 years after the tribe was first discovered by Mission Aviation Fellowship in a flight survey in 1965.

The Bibles handed out to the tribe were translated into southern Yali. After 32 years, the translation was completed in 2000. World Team missionary, Stan Dale, and a Yali man named Luliap Pahabol worked together to complete the Gospel of Mark, the first book to be completely translated.

Dale was working on the book of Acts when he and colleague Phil Masters were tragically killed in 1968.

Two of the tribe’s warriors ambushed the missionaries as they were scouting out a place for a new airstrip in order to shared the Gospel with a “particularly hostile Yali tribe,” MAF reports. The tribal warriors attacked the missionaries because they were spreading a message that went against the tribe’s witchcraft and beliefs. The two missionaries took more than 200 arrows before they died.

Then, a second Mission Aviation Fellowship plane crashed and the pilot, Paul, stumbled out and was found by one of the Yali tribe members who was against murdering missionaries. The tribe member kept Paul safe until a search party arrived.

The tribe considered this second visit a sign and listened to what the search party and Paul had to say, and slowly more and more members of the Yali tribe came to Christ.

There are now more than 100 churches among the Yali people.

Photo courtesy: ©Sparrowstock


John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.



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