A ritual in Papua New Guinea for girls coming-of-age became a platform for a parent to urge young people to uphold cultural and Christian practices.

Paul Melbak from the Eastern Highlands Province hosted a menarche ceremony called Yungul Paingol for his daughter, Anna. This traditional initiation is secret to women, and the men within the family are only part of the practice during the feast afterwards, reports Post Courier Online.

Before my daughter grows up to be a woman, I must make sure she learns a lot from the elders and most importantly the church and the teaching of God’s words, too. —Paul Melbak

Mr. Melbak wanted to instill to his visitors the importance of preserving cultural practices. “Before my daughter grows up to be a woman, I must make sure she learns a lot from the elders and most importantly the church and the teaching of God’s words, too.”

He explained that the party was not only for her daughter’s milestone, but he hoped that the event challenges parents to educate their children about the community’s customs and Christian practices.

“Children are educated, influenced and follow what we parents are doing thus, we must be cautious on what we impart to our children at home,” Melbak said. “We also have the church of God (Christianity) where we as people can submit to receive guidance.”

Lying in the southwestern Pacific, Papua New Guinea is a predominantly Christian country, with 96% of its more than 8 million population adhere to Christianity. While most of the communities in the country follow the traditional family and social customs, such as patriarchy and separate houses for men and women, new influences have modified the social system.

A women’s congress was held in September in Port Moresby where almost 5,000 women attended the week-long event. The Papua New Guinean prime minister, James Marape, spoke at the opening ceremony asserting the importance of women in Church and society, reports Adventist News Network.

Erna Johnson, former Women’s Ministries director for the South Pacific Division and Greater Sydney Conference, said, “It is the biggest number of teenage girls attending a women’s ministries event ever, held anywhere! What a pleasure it was to see those eager faces ready to learn and be challenged.”

In addition to teaching the young girls relevant topics, such as how to make good life choices, there were evening discussions about the lessons to be learned from women in the Bible.

Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.