Guns exchanged for Bibles in Papua New Guinea

The Salvation Army encourages youth to take a different path.


More than 30 youths from Four Mile settlement, Papua New Guinea—considered a notorious breeding ground for criminals—recently exchanged their weapons for Bibles at a small ceremony. Their surrendering of the arms was at the urging and encouragement of The Salvation Army.

The weapons included homemade guns, live ammunition, slingshots, bush knives and pieces of iron used by the youths for armed hold-ups and roadblocks.

The youths themselves initiated the weapons surrender program, along with The Salvation Army from the city of Lae. During the ceremony, they handed their weapons to North Coastal Divisional Commander Major Sere Kala, in front of the settlement leaders, an Australian television crew and others.

As each youth from the settlement surrendered his weapon, Kala issued him a Bible and assured him of a better life of Christianity. The weapons were subsequently handed over to police for disposal.

Kala said the Four Mile area is considered a crime hot spot, where roadblocks and armed hold-ups are common. He revealed that he was once a victim, held up while traveling in a bus from Nadzab airport to Lae.

Kala’s relationship with the young people in that settlement grew after meeting with youth leaders. The Salvation Army assisted them in starting up a coffee shop with K250, which earned them about K650 in a month. The Army also helped train them to bake scones and sell them.

Praising the youths’ positive thinking and attitudes by deciding to surrender their arms, Kala said, “This is a change for the better.” He also challenged the business community to give the youths a second chance to prove themselves. “If we can sow compassion and a little bit of care, we will be creating the leeway for these youths to follow and change to become better persons,” he said.

From a Salvation Army international news release, originally from a report by Bola Noho published in the Lae Daily News on Nov. 13, 2006.

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