Barely two months into my missionary service, I was the one foreigner among thousands of Yuna people. My assignment was to learn their language in order to help with translating the Old Testament for them.. The only English spoken was at the nearby school. I was asked to give a Bible lesson to the children there on Cain and Abel. I related the story and concluded with some questions.
“Why was Cain angry with his brother?” I asked.
They discussed it among themselves and came back with what to them was the obvious answer. “Cain was the older brother but he was poor. His younger brother had all the wealth, so Cain was jealous and killed him.” The educated pastor who brought me there agreed and defended their answer. I was confused.
Papua New Guinean people are bright, but in the early days their knowledge was limited by how far their feet could take them. They only knew their own world, so Biblical events were interpreted through their own world view. To the Yuna people, Cain was obviously poor because he had to grow food and did not have livestock, which for the Yuna people means pigs. Abel had lots of ‘pigs’, so he was clearly wealthy! This disparity of wealth and status stands out for every Yuna person who hears the story.