Easter week in Vanuatu is a time for church camps, week-long night outreaches and finally sunrise Easter Sunday services. This special focus starts on Palm Sunday and goes full swing until Easter Sunday.
The first term of classes are out at JBI and school will resume on May 10th. During this break we have JBI students going many places for ministry. Four students have gone to Saama, on the north side of Efate, to speak at a youth camp and three of our female students are currently running a kid’s camp in a poor neighborhood of the city. Other students have gone to other communities to assist churches and pastors in a variety of ways. Pastor Kiel, one of the JBI teachers is speaking at a youth camp on the island of Malekula over this long weekend and then will fly to the island of Tanna for a pastor’s seminar.
We, on the other hand, will be having a family weekend attending services. We have had a very busy term at JBI and need to catch up on some family time, submit grades and reports, and finalize the details for our classroom construction project. I am also translating a 48 page booklet in Bislama which will be printed and handed out at a women’s conference on May 15th.
The crates which we sent from the US months ago have yet to arrive and all of our homeschool materials are inside them. This delay has put our kids months behind in school. We have reordered some books and have borrowed books from SIL missionaries so we can continue working on some subjects. Needless to say, homeschooling will be a priority over the next few months also. Pray that our crates will eventually make it to Vanuatu!
We wish you all a blessed Easter! He is Risen!
On March 18th, we were so pleased to host the all-island youth meeting on the JBI campus. Several hundred young people from churches all around the island of Efate gathered for the second youth rally of the year. The young people showered the JBI cafeteria with fresh food, rice and a cash offering of almost $150. Our school cafeteria runs solely on donated food and offerings so their generosity was a blessing to the students. Three youth choirs and the JBI student choir sang. Gary was asked to preach on I Timothy 4:11, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Many stepped forward to the altar after the message. It was a wonderful night.
THOUSANDS PREPARE TO FLEE VANUATU VOLCANO
Mass evacuation of Gaua Island planned
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 20, 2010) – Preparations are being made to evacuate nearly 3,000 people from the Vanuatu island of Gaua after further threats from its volcano. [PIR editor’s note: Gaua is among the Banks and Torres Islands in Vanuatu’s far north.] The Gaua volcano in Torba province began erupting seven months ago and there has been renewed activity in recent weeks. Government officials have been discussing the logistics of an evacuation, but no date has been set. A Department of Internal Affairs meeting last Thursday concluded there was no alternative to evacuating the people of Gaua to Sola on Vanualava island. From Sola most would be relocated to Leon Bay for up to a year, on land owned by the Anglican Church of Vanuatu. Others would be dispatched to other islands in Torba. The meeting heard that the evacuation needs to take place as soon as possible because the children on Gaua have been traumatised by the eruption and this may affect their studies. Late last year, about 300 residents on the western side of Gaua, who were suffering from the effects of ash and gas, were relocated to villages on the eastern part of the island. (from www.pireport.org)
Please pray for the people of Gaua, an island in northern Vanuatu. This volcanic eruption has been disturbing everyday life for several months and now the growing intensity of the eruption is forcing the population to be evacuated. This comes at a time when our missionary colleague, Bryan Webb was organizing the construction of a new church building on Gaua.
For several months I having been working on print agreements, editorial proofs, photo shoots and answering innumerable emails and now the Gospel of John booklet has finally been printed in the Bislama language!
Since the four Gospels were translated into Bislama in 1971, it appears that this is the first time the Gospel of John has been available as a separate booklet. I do not have the words to express how I felt today when I received the first copies of “Gud Nius blong Jisas Kraes we Jon i Raetem” or as we would say in English, “The Good News of Jesus Christ that John Wrote”.
My partner in this project wrote a note inside one booklet saying,
“Who would ever think we would ever see the end of this project! I feel so amazingly blessed to have been a part of what God has done. I am reminded that when God’s Word goes out it doesn’t return void. As we have seen God work in this project let us also believe in prayer for the ground to be ready for the seeds to grow and bring forth fruit.”
Thank you to those of you who generously support “Light For The Lost.” We received $5000 for this project. I have shared with you in the past our concern about new converts not having the Scriptures in a language they can easily understand. The Bible is available in Bislama but at a discounted price of $22.00 per Bible, it is obviously not something we can hand out frequently. The new Gospel of John is a 48 page, glossy paper booklet (5 3/4 in. x 8 1/4in.) with a full color cover. This Gospel of John costs 35 cents a piece and we have 14,200 copies to give away!
I started this project alone and many have joined me to make this idea a reality. Thank you especially to Michael and my new friends at the Bible Society of the South Pacific offices both in Fiji and Australia who helped in so many ways!
In a few days these booklets will be arriving by ship in Vanuatu from the printer. Please pray that things will go smoothly and they will be released from customs quickly. Pray that as they are distributed people will understand that only Jesus can say, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
We are so thankful for LFTL funds which enable us to provide many different kinds of printed materials for evangelism and new converts. Last year we were also able to purchase 200 Sunday School teachers books (a book of 60 great lessons) from the AG of the Philippines in English. English is spoken here but our goal is to eventually translate this curriculum into Bislama so it can be easily understood and used by all. So far the feedback from teachers is excellent.
We have now given every book away and I am still getting phone calls from pastors on outer islands wanting copies for their church. I thought you might enjoy seeing some Sunday School teachers in action today at Evangel Temple. This is a town church but it has no special classrooms for Sunday School activities. Every class finds a corner of the sanctuary or outside to gather. What I was glad to see was the teachers using the new curriculum and everyone enjoying themselves.
Sunday morning phone calls do not always bring good news. This Sunday morning, Pastor Mendor was standing high on a hill in the middle bush on the large island of Espiritu Santo with a cell phone and had good news to share. He was so excited because today a man from an influential family in an unreached village was going to be baptized! This is an unreached village that Pastor Mendor has trekked by while evangelizing other places but this particular village had remained closed to him. What is hard to imagine is that this village among others in the dense jungle of Santo has resisted the Gospel of Christ not because of traditional animistic beliefs (which they still adhere to) but because a Baha’i believer had previously been there and “claimed” them.
How can I share with you Pastor Mendor’s passion to reach the people in remote villages on Espiritu Santo? How his heart breaks when he hears that villagers who have never had an adequate presentation of the Gospel of Christ fall prey to foreign cults. He asked us to share this testimony with the JBI students and challenge them to take the Gospel to the hard unreached places of Vanuatu. He said, “While Christians stay in the easy coastline areas, foreign cults are going inland and claiming villagers by business contracts and development projects. They are doing this right under our noses.”
Last year Pastor Mendor and Terry, a young Christian man, were trekking by this village when they were stopped by a torrential rainstorm. They were given shelter and Pastor Mendor took advantage of this opportunity to share the message of Christ with his host family. They listened but the head of the family said that they had already agreed to follow Bahá’u’lláh. But the Holy Spirit was working in hearts and one man asked Pastor Mendor to pray for him. Pastor Mendor promised to stop by again in a few months on his next trip.
Today, that same man, Philip, is being baptized in this village as a testimony to his claiming Christ as his personal Savior. Someone had claimed Philip for another prophet but Philip experienced Christ in his life after Pastor Mendor’s visit and has made his own decision.
Pastor Mendor asked me if I could send 10 Bislama Bibles and writing notebooks for the literacy class he is giving to help the villagers read the Bislama Bible. He is not interested in “claiming” people but rather in making disciples who will follow Christ and understand God’s Word. Please pray for Pastor Mendor and others as they trek through the bush taking the Gospel to the isolated places.
Thank you also for supporting LFTL literature projects. We are currently in the final editorial stages before we print 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in Bislama. A Bislama Bible costs US$22.00 but the Gospel of John will cost about 60 cents and will be more readily available to men like Pastor Mendor who are taking the Gospel to those who have not yet heard.
By world standards, Port Vila is a small capital city. But it is certainly the center of comings and goings to Vanuatu and the outer lying islands. Since we live in Port Vila, we are privileged to meet many people and do many airport welcomes and farewells.
When literature or medication are urgently needed by missionaries or national pastors on other islands we send them by plane. When larger shipments of food, building materials or church supplies are needed, we ship them by small boat.
Doctors and dentists work primarily here in Port Vila so many people have to come to town for treatment. Small commercial planes and a private helicopter are sometimes used in emergency cases to evacuate people to Port Vila for medical treatment. Good medical care is not available to many people.
Our missionary colleague, Bryan Webb, is currently organizing a Health Care team which will be going to the southern island of Tanna. Bryan works on the northern island of Santo so he shipped us the necessary camping supplies of tents, toilets, portable shower and even an electrical generator which we then put on another ship headed to Tanna to be used by the team.
At this point, everything seems to be falling into place for the medical team, except the AIDS awareness kits which are needed for a community health seminar. These were shipped from Fiji in February but have not arrived. Please pray that these parcels will arrive in time to be used in this outreach.
This week was final exam week at JBI. The students are now on a two week break. The photo below is of the Youth Ministry class which Lori taught. The course challenged them to look at youth ministry through a new lens, to re-evaluate their current efforts, to re-focus on the real needs of young people within our local context, to set ministry goals and then to move towards content-driven rather than just multiple event programs. The purpose youth ministry being TRANSFORMATION rather than just passing on information! Lori used Andy Stanley’s “Seven Checkpoints” as an example of content-driven youth ministry. The whole idea of youth discipleship and re-shaping worldviews was re-affirmed in hearts. To make this practical the students worked in groups and wrote chapters for a small new converts booklet in Bislama. I know we all felt like we had a productive term! Pray for this group of influential young people as they work with youth in their home churches!
I just got back tonight from speaking to a group of ladies at Pango village. We had a very good service and I enjoyed being with them. Three young women came forward at the end of the message.
Last Wednesday I spoke for the Shefa province WM combined meeting where several hundred women were gathered. The planned speaker cancelled so I was asked a couple days beforehand to take her place. This is not easy to do with my teaching schedule at the Bible School and homeschooling our own children.
The WM combined meeting takes place three times a year and brings together women from our AG churches all around the island of Efate. The church was packed and ladies were sitting in the adjacent prayer room listening and on mats at both doorways. Many responded to the altar call. After service the national WM leader told me that I had just preached the opening theme for an upcoming national WM convention scheduled for later in the year. Please pray for our Christian ladies, that they will be true salt and light! Their faith or lack thereof so greatly affects their homes and children. Vanuatu is facing growing social challenges, escalating crime in urban areas, growing delinquency and unemployment. We have the answer, so pray that our Christian women will step out and speak up!
Gary had the privilege of preaching this morning at Family Worship Center at Pango village. His text was Ephesians 4:7-16 as he challenged the church to understand that Christ gave a diversity of gifts to the Body of Christ to bring about the unity of the faith.
At the closing of the service all the new ministry leaders came forward to the altar to be prayed for.
After service everyone went outside for the baptism of two young ladies. Several JBI students, Jimmy, Manson, Keith and Cedric are involved in ministry at this church. Please continue to pray for Pastor Berry and the growth of the church in Pango.
We have been packaging and shipping boxes of the new outreach magazines, tracts and Sunday school materials to the outer islands. From where we are located on the central island of Efate, the ships are headed either to islands north or south of us. Inter-island shipping is by no means a tightly scheduled affair, ships come and go, ships don’t come and don’t go, ships are on time and most are repeatedly delayed! The ship which took the boxes that Jeremy is seen carrying, stayed an extra 6 days in dock before leaving! Though it can be a challenge sending church supplies to the outer islands, our outer island pastors are grateful for any literature and church supplies which come their way.
Thank you for supporting LFTL and helping us to produce and distribute literature to the many islands of Vanuatu!
Friday morning the airlines called to say my shipment had arrived. That was good news! We have been waiting for our latest issue of Famille Heureuse (French for “Happy Family”) magazine to arrive from the printer in New Caledonia. After strenuous weeks of editorial work is it always a wonderful feeling to see the magazine printed and being handed out.
Four thousand copies of this free evangelism magazine have already been distributed in New Caledonia, the rest will be distributed in Vanuatu, Wallis and Tahiti. This latest issue deals with building strong marriage relationships, finding grace when things are not perfect and hope when relationships have been torn apart by affairs. We know the subject is timely in our island cultures. I was delighted on my way into the grocery store today to see the magazine tucked into a women’s purse!
Please pray that God will use this issue to begin a healing process in the heart’s of those who read it and thank you for giving to LFTL (Light For The Lost) which generously supports this project.
We had a great youth camp in NW Malekula. Over a hundred young people plus as many younger siblings from several different villages came to the village of Leviamp for the youth camp. It was a beautiful place, right on the coast and the whole village was very gracious and hospitable to us all. We were well fed, slept in our sleeping bags and mosquito nets, took our daily baths in the river and enjoyed beautiful moonlit after-church dinners. A portable generator was turned on for the nightly services so we had electrical instruments and PA system but otherwise there is no power or telephone service on that side of the island.
Lori spoke two mornings on “making a difference in our generation” (Queen Esther) and then by request spoke on sexual purity a third morning. Gary preached a five night series on the Will of God. We were delighted to be joined by Pastor Simon Kor, who surprised us by flying down from Santo and translating into Bislama every night for Gary (Lori was very happy not to have to do that!). He also preached the closing Sunday service. Leviamp is Pastor Simon’s home village though he has spent many years pastoring on the island of Santo. He also told us about the first time he accompanied my father to preach at Leviamp in the Big Nambas territory in the late 1970’s. It was wonderful to meet people in the church today who still remember my father’s visit.
The camp ended on Sunday with twenty-five young people being baptized in water. During the teaching sessions, we noticed that only 1 in every 10 kids actually owned a Bible. So we brought home the names of everyone who was baptized and plan to send them each a Bible and Christian Life booklet. If you would like to help provide Bibles, please contact us.
The last three months have been very busy with many extra hours each day spent in front of the computer, writing, editing, and designing new literature. I have completed another issue of Famille Heureuse, a Christian family magazine in French, a new Christian life outreach magazine in Bislama, and designed several new Gospel tracts in Bislama. At the same time funds were made available for us to order Sunday school curriculum from the Assemblies of God in the Philippines and English tracts from the US.
I have learned after seven years of producing Famille Heureuse magazine that during the editorial phase I need people praying because whatever can go wrong, will go wrong! Usually, it is perfectly fine equipment which stops working or starts doing crazy things but this latest FH issue brought some startling challenges! The night before the final magazine layouts were to be sent to the printers, the lady who had done the final layouts had her house hit by lightning! Her computer was zapped along with our finished magazine! Eventually, some pages were recovered from the hard disk but I had to completely redo the final editorial work! Her computer was melted beyond repair and thankfully her home insurance bought her a new one!
After all the hours and technical problems, the best part is just starting – the magazines are rolling off the press and the literature is arriving ready to be distributed! That is the wonderful thing about literature, it gets into the hands and homes of people I will never meet! And that is why I keep creating new magazines and tracts!