Winds of Change for Salamander Resident

Ken Osborne’s love for the Enga shines through the words in his book Winds of Change. Photo by Jewell Drury
Ken Osborne’s love for the Enga shines through the words in his book Winds of Change. Photo by Jewell Drury

Salamander Bay resident Ken Osborne worked among the Kyaka Enga people of Papua New Guinea with the Australian Baptist Missionary Society from 1956 to 1971.

The 88-year-old’s short-term brief was to examine the agricultural methods of the Kyaka Enga in an attempt to improve their nutrition as medical staff had confirmed that malnutrition was widespread among children, with an infant mortality rate of 30 percent.

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Ken had heard many derogatory stories about missionary endeavours interfering in the cultural life of tribal peoples and this made him adamant that he would achieve a different outcome.

He was determined to learn the local language and spent a lot of his time in the village learning from the Kyaka Enga people.

Ken soon realised that the Enga villagers had each been engraved into his heart.

“I even began to dream in the local language as I had become so much a part of them,” Ken told Bay News Of The Area.

“I understood the importance of training Enga pastors, understanding that they would have the same worldview as their fellow tribesmen and not merely teach from a western worldview,” he said.

Ken soon began work on translating the Bible into the local language.

He met his wife, Shirley, when she came to the village as a nurse and together they had four children whom they raised in Papua New Guinea until they returned home to Nelson Bay when their children reached high school age.

An Enga tribesman came to Australia and lived with Ken and his family for six months to complete the translation of the New Testament, which was presented to the Enga people in 1973.

Statistics show that 90 percent of the Kyaka Enga are now Christian and that there are some 80,000 Baptist church members in the whole country of Papua New Guinea.

Ken’s love for the Enga shines through the legacy he has left in the hearts of the Kyaka Engas and in the words he has written in Winds of Change.

Ken Osborne’s book is available by contacting mmc73218@bigpond.net.au or ph 4982 0360.

By Jewell DRURY

Photos that document The Kyaka Engas and Ken’s work amongst them. Photo by Jewell Drury
Photos that document The Kyaka Engas and Ken’s work amongst them. Photo by Jewell Drury

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