Neo-Melanesian Papuan in Solomon Islands

Neo-Melanesian Papuan
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People Name: Neo-Melanesian Papuan
Country: Solomon Islands
10/40 Window: No
Population: 7,500
World Population: 227,700
Primary Language: Tok Pisin
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 95.00 %
Evangelicals: 32.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: New Guinea
Affinity Bloc: Pacific Islanders
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Solomon Islands are located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1000 miles east of New Guinea. The 992 islands, 147 of which are inhabited, are tropical and were formed of both volcanic and coral activity. Dense tropical forest covers many of the volcanic islands and low-lying flat coral atolls sit just above the ocean surface. The climate is considered tropical monsoon. The terrain is either rugged (volcanic) or flat (coral atoll) depending upon the area in question. Elevations range from sea level to 7500 feet. People of Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian ancestry populate the islands. [1] [2]

Archaeological and linguistic evidence shows the Solomon Islands were settled between 4000–5000 years ago by people from Southeast Asia. It was not until the 16th Century that the European world came to learn of Solomon Islands. Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana made the first contact in 1568. Discovering gold on Guadalcanal, he thought he had found the source of King Solomon's great wealth and named it the Isles of Solomon. It was through his influence that many of the islands in the archipelago bear original Spanish names. [2]

After Mendana, Dutch and French explorers made forays into the group of islands. They were followed by the Germans and British. The islands of New Georgia, Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita became a British protectorate in 1893 and others soon followed. [2]

Japanese aggression turned the islands into a theatre of war during World War II. Both the Japanese and Allied Forces suffered huge losses in land, sea, and aerial battles. Today, the archipelago is littered with war relics and many of the country's airstrips and roads owe their existence to the war. [2]

The Solomon Islands gained independence from Britain on July 7, 1978. Twenty years later, tribal rivalries erupted into armed hostilities within the island nation. Ethnic violence, government malfeasance, and endemic crime undermined stability and civil society. In June 2003, the Prime Minister sought the assistance of Australia in reestablishing law and order. The following month, an Australian-led multinational force arrived to restore peace and disarm ethnic militias. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was formed and has been effective in restoring law and order and rebuilding government institutions. Hostilities ended and the nation currently functions with an elected government. [1] [2]

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Solomon Islands are located in a strategic location on sea routes between the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Sea, and the Coral Sea. On 2 April 2007, an undersea earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred 345 km WNW of the capital Honiara. A resulting tsunami devastated coastal areas of Western and Choiseul provinces with dozens of deaths and thousands dislocated. The provincial capital of Gizo was especially hard hit. Volcanic activity and tremors are common and earthquakes are somewhat frequent for the islands. Though rare, tsunamis can be devastating as previously mentioned. [1]

Even though the islands are in the tropics, devastating tropical cyclones are not a threat to the area. Temperatures are hot and humidity is heavy throughout the year. The islands have little arable land but fishing is very robust in the area. Approximately 600,000 people live in the islands and almost all are of Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian descent. Life expectancy is 75 years and many of the island people live in somewhat simple circumstances. There are 120 indigenous languages and English is spoken by a very small percentage of the islands' population; however, English is commonly spoken by governmental employees and many locals in the market places. [1]

In the tourist areas, many ordinary conveniences are available including TV, telephone (wired and wireless), internet (including WiFi), fax, and international long distance. [1]

An attitude of resistance to outsiders may exist in areas outside the tourist locations. Some groups of villagers live the same as their ancestors did centuries ago. It is best to get advice from local officials as to which areas can be visited. Group tours are highly recommended and many such tours of the islands are available. [2]

There is a wide range of traditional leaf baskets, wood & stone carvings, mats, shell jewelries, woven hats, and other local products available for purchase at the main market and souvenir stands. In addition to crafts, local island people work in mining, logging, fishing, and market commerce. Rural people live lives of subsistence farming, fishing, and craftwork. [2]

Visitors to the islands are encouraged to use Visa or MasterCard for purchases or Australian travelers checks. Visitors from US, UK, and most Europeans are required to have passports but no additional visa application is necessary in advance. [2]

What Are Their Beliefs?

Approximately three-quarters of 1999 census respondents claimed affiliation with protestant Christianity and less than one-fifth with Roman Catholicism. [1] Many rural people reportedly practice tribal religions past down through the generations that include mysticism and folk beliefs.

What Are Their Needs?

Even though the islands have a large concentration of adherents of the Christian faith, every nation needs to have the proper instruction and living example of Biblical Christianity. Discipleship and Scripture-oriented teaching and preaching need to be maintained. Evangelistic efforts for the islands and neighboring nations are also an area that needs to be established and/or maintained.

People in the more remote locations could benefit form toiletries and medicines that may not be available to them. Mosquito nets, insecticides, and building/repair supplies could also be beneficial. Education and medical missions to the islands could be a source of ministry offering opportunities for increased acceptance of outsiders into the more remote areas.

Prayer Points

Pray for Biblical Christianity to be proclaimed on these islands.
Pray for local converts to be prepared for ministry unto their neighbors.
Pray for their protection and provision while they engage in spiritual warfare.
Pray for God to raise up a people who will take the gospel message to neighboring islands and into other nations.

Text Source:   Wallace Revels