BY GANJIKI D WAYNE
WITH TOMORROW being Papua New Guinea’s first National Repentance Day, let’s take some time on PNG Attitude to reflect on its significance.
During the term of the last government our then acting prime minister, Sam Abal, and the National Executive Council were convinced that such a commemoration was pivotal to national change. I could not agree more.
And so, tomorrow, Friday 26 August, is National Repentance Day for Papua New Guinea.
My humble question is: do Papua New Guineans understand the meaning of repentance? And therefore do we understand the significance of this day?
Perhaps its earliest usage of repentance in the English language (at least in the Bible) was when it appeared in the King James Bible exactly 400 years ago.
It is an expression especially familiar with the Christian faith. “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!"
Christians proclaim to this lost world, echoing the Lord Jesus and his announcer John the Baptist. I’m not sure if we really know what we are saying. Non-Christians or the irreligious would probably baulk at this concept; concluding confidently that it does not apply to them.
Christians would embrace it ecstatically; believing its high time the whole nation repents or at least appreciates its eternal importance.
In chasing the definition of repentance, the most obvious meaning jumps out: change of mind. The English word repentance comes from the Greek word matenoeo which simply means “change of mind”. It can also refer to “change of conduct” and “change of consciousness”.
Change of mind means changing beliefs and perceptions on a certain subject. If not believing something in the past, repentance means now believing it. In the Christian context, repentance means believing in the Lord Jesus, having previously not believed and turning away from sin. If I did not think a certain way before, I would now embrace that way of thinking.
In the Christian context repentance is associated with sin. True repentance is supposed to mean no longer allowing sin to reign in us. In the ordinary non-religious context repentance generally relates to changing the way we think.
On both notes I think PNG is well overdue for repentance. Never before has changing of the mind been so vital to national progress than it is today. We cannot continue in our way of thinking if we are to see real long-lasting change in our nation.
This is something that Patriots PNG has been campaigning for (changing of mindset) since its inception and which the church has been pushing for since coming to PNG (repentance from sin and faith in God).
Steve Biko, in the movie Cry Freedom, says it clearly: "Change the way people think, and things will never be the same." Change in thinking is supposed to naturally show in the conduct.
I do not know exactly what stifles our progress as a nation. But I have a clue that it has a lot to do with our mindsets: individually and collectively.
One thing for sure in both the religious and irreligious context: true repentance must be preceded by an understanding of that which you must change your mind about.
If I used to think that spitting betelnut all over the streets was OK (or if I do not think it is wrong) before changing my mind about it, I would have to first be convinced in my mind that it is indeed wrong. Otherwise there would be no basis on which I would then “change my mind” and stop such a habit.
So if there has to be any real repenting, any real minded-change, there will have to be some real hard-hitting revelation (I tried to find a less-religious word but this is most appropriate) of the defects in our current way of thinking and conduct. The kind of revelation would cause us to swallow our pride and humbly accept that we need to change.
That part of the process (revealing our defective ways of thinking) has to be intensified in PNG. The people need to appreciate what need to be repented of. We need to appreciate what’s wrong with our current mindset, our current beliefs and our conduct before any successful effort can be made to improve or change.
Every person who understands the wrongness of a belief or conduct must make it their duty to inform others so as to help them change their thinking and conduct. And the church must not slack of in speaking out against sin and what is morally wrong.
Every individual has a duty to reflect on their current beliefs and perceptions, attitudes and conduct. Please do not assume that repentance is an exercise only for the religious.
We all have things that we can and should change. Some honest self-reflection will reveal a lot. We all can do with some change of mind...some repentance...
As a Facebook user posted so profoundly “no person or country can change until they face the hard ugly truth about themselves”. True. For only then will you be compelled to truly repent. Reflection precedes repentance
God Bless Papua New Guinea and Heavenise Day!