Monday, March 30, 2009

Traveling Home

We have finished the Board meetings in Apia, Samoa, for South Pacific Nazarene Theological College.  It is exciting to see this college located in 5 different nations actually coming together to be a real entity!  Principals and representatives from four of the five nations met together at the Samoa campus along with Rev. Peni Fakaua, President of SPNTC, Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach and his daughter Danielle, Dr. David McEwan South Pacific Field Education Coordinator, and Dr. Melvin Rigsby, AP Regional Education Coordinator. 


After the meetings Peni, Samoan missionary living in Fiji, drove us to the wharf where we boarded the ferry bound for the northern island of Sevaii.  We spent the day driving around the island and stopped to visit with one of the Nazarene pastors. 


We are now in Los Angeles waiting for our next flight which will take us to Michigan where Sylvia’s parents live.  Next Sunday we begin our deputation speaking at our home church in Coshocton, Ohio.  Here is where we’re going after that:


Potter’s Home Assignment Schedule


April 5 – Coshocton, Ohio

April 15 – Sublette, Kansas

April 18-19 – Grand Rapids, Michigan (International Fellowship)

April 25-May 6 – Intermountain District

May 10 – Sylvia’s graduation at NNU

May 17-24 – West Texas District

May 27 – Mission Valley in San Diego

May 31-June 11 – Los Angeles District

June 14 – Monticello, Florida

June 20-21 – Orange Park, Florida

June 24-30 – General Assembly, Orlando, Florida


Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Precious in the eyes of the Lord (Jan22/09)

After we worshiped together at Black Sand Nazarene Church last Sunday, five of us drove to the hospital to pray with a member of the Ohlen Nazarene Church.  Chief Thomas had sores on his left foot due to poor circulation.  A week before, the doctors had amputated his leg because his foot had become necrotic.  The infection was systemic now.  Chief Thomas, who had become a dear friend over the years, was in a coma and breathing hard even with oxygen.  I (David) know that sometimes people can hear, even while in a coma, so I held his hand and shared John 14 with him.  Many of his extended family who surrounded the bed listened intently also.  I talked about how Jesus is preparing a place for us.  Jesus wants to be with us and share his life with us.  He wants us to share our concerns and cares with him whether we are in this world or the next.  Just two hours later, we got a call that Chief Thomas had gone to be with the Lord.  I couldn't help wondering if what I had shared allowed him to release his hold on this life and cling to Jesus' hand as he walked Chief Thomas into his eternal future.

Yesterday, David and I (Sylvia) joined several other Christians from the Malapoa, Black Sand and Erakor Nazarene Churches to go and grieve with Chief Thomas' family outside of town at a village called Eratap. David and I both felt an unusual peace and calm as we headed to this place that we'd never been to before - peace that we would find the place and peace that God would guide us in our ministry.

We arrived and were directed to a house. Everyone filed in and found a place to sit on the mats. The wailing began. As I thought of Chief Thomas' wife, Lily, it was not hard to cry with the rest of the ones gathered in the room. I imagined myself carrying in my own body her burden of sorrow, then I pictured each of us bearing her grief.

After awhile the crying stopped and people began to shake hands with each other and talk softly to one another. I took this opportunity to move closer to Lily. As I held her in my arms, my heart ached and we cried again.

Later after others had gone outside, I sat down next to her and shared about the comfort that we have in knowing Christ and his promise to take us to the Father. I thought about the psalmist who assured us that precious in God's eyes is the death of his godly ones (Psalm 116:15). How thankful we are that Thomas had given his heart to Jesus a few years ago. God had given him the opportunity just last January to return to his home on Aniwa to help establish the Nazarene Church. I remember his testimonies of how God used him to pray for the sick while he was there and how he encouraged young Pastor Keithly.

We stayed with the family for several hours as they prepared food for us to eat together. As we waited we watched one man throw a hunk of cow meat onto a makeshift wooden table, hack it into pieces with his not-so-clean looking axe, and then take it to the cooks. Mmmm…!?

As we left to return to Port Vila, the ladies gathered some branches from colorful plants growing in the yard. These would be planted at our homes as a remembrance of our friend. What a beautiful custom! Sharing grief and sharing beauty…life out of death.

God’s Blessings in 2008 (Jan1/09)

We praise the Lord for all that He has done in and through our lives during this last year. Please copy this link and paste it in your web browser to enjoy a "picture praise review" of 2008 -

We pray for you the blessing of God's presence throughout this coming year!

Your family in Vanuatu,
David and Sylvia

Newest Nazarene Church Dedicated and CBHC Survey Trip - May 2008 (Oct17/08)

On May 5th a team of mission leaders flew to the tiny island of Aniwa near the southern end of the Vanuatu chain.

Dr. Becky, Danielle, Harmon, James, David and Peter

Dr. Becky Morsch, Field coordinator for CBHC, along with James Johnson, Harmon Schmelzenbach, his daughter Danielle, Rev. Peter Isaac, and David and Sylvia planned to dedicate the brand new Aniwa Church of the Nazarene and also conduct an introductory survey for Community Based Health Care. Dr. Becky would also be conducting surveys in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The team was welcomed by the chief in a special ceremony held on the village commons. It was so special to finally be arriving to the island that we had been hearing about for so long.

In the morning, Pastor Keithly took us on a tour to see the place where his father was buried. His father, Chief Tani Rena, had returned to Aniwa in December 2007 to speak to the leaders of his island about giving land for the Church of the Nazarene, but died unexpectedly. The leaders honored Chief Tani Rena's desire and his family chose Keithly to be trained to pastor this new church.

First on the agenda was dedication of the beautiful new Aniwa Church of the Nazarene that Pastors Keithly and Paul had built along with men and women from Keithly's village of Ikaukau.

We praise God for his provision!


That afternoon leaders from the six villages on the island of Aniwa were called together for the introductory meeting of CBHC with Dr. Becky.

On Wednesday, the survey team followed Pastor Keithly in the morning and afternoon to visit several of the other villages. The team was well received in each village.

On Thursday morning prior to the team's departure to return to Port Vila, gifts and words of appreciation were exchanged by leaders of the survey team and leaders of the village.

On Thursday morning prior to the team's departure to return to Port Vila, gifts and words of appreciation were exchanged by leaders of the survey team and leaders of the village.

After Dr. Becky surveyed villages in Solomon Islands and Fiji, it was decided that she would begin her work in the South Pacific right here on the island of Aniwa. She plans to return for the first training session in late November. Pastor Aseri and his wife La will be flying over from Fiji for training which they will take back to their village on the island of Kadavu, one of the islands of Fiji.

City-Wide Revival in Port Vila - April 2008 (Oct17/08)

The first ever Church of the Nazarene city-wide revival was held April 17-20.

Robert, Rev. Arua and Rev. Moime - Warm welcome to Vanuatu!

Each of the Port Vila Nazarene churches challenged their members to pray for 10 unsaved friends and family members and then host them at the revival. Rev. Andrew Moime, pastor of Mt. Hagen Church of the Nazarene in PNG, Rev. Ako Arua, pastor of a Nazarene church outside of Port Moresby, and Robert Timothy, graduate from University of PNG and member of Rev. Ako's music group, came to Vanuatu for the first time to lead the worship and preach God's Word during the four days of the revival.

Revival choir

Rev. Ako and Robert came early to train and prepare our teens and young adults to share in the music ministry. We praise God for the lives that were touched and transformed as a result of these meetings.

Planting a Church on the Island of Aniwa(Feb25/08)

This February the Church of the Nazarene planted a church on a new island in Vanuatu, the island of Aniwa. On Sunday, February 25th, 2008, the Nazarene churches in Port Vila entrusted their first local missionary to the Lord's care and sent him to Aniwa to help establish the church there.

The background of these events is fascinating. Pastors Peter and Jenny Isaac, Nazarene missionaries from Papua New Guinea, now working in Vanuatu, befriended a chief from Aniwa. This chief strongly desired and requested that the Church of the Nazarene come and share God's Word with his people. Shortly after this time the chief died and his family requested that Pastor Peter preach the funeral services. They wanted the Church to still come to their island, despite their chief's death

Kiethly, the son of the chief who died, was chosen by his tribe to be Pastor Peter's disciple and later, pastor this church. He participated in a few pastoral training courses from the South Pacific Nazarene Theological College Vanuatu Campus and returned to his home island of Aniwa in December. Kiethly asked some young men to cut down trees for posts to build a church. He encouraged some women to sew together a thatch roof. As lay pastor, he called together a small group of children and led them in Sunday School. Later, he plans to return to Port Vila, the capital, for additional pastoral training.

Sending service for Pastor Paul

Meanwhile, back in Port Vila, Efate on Sunday night, February 24th, 2008, a "combined NMI Sending Service" was held. Paul, a young student of SPNTC and friend of Kiethly, knelt with four pastors and many family members surrounding him in prayer, as they entrusted him to the Lord's care and protection. God's people at this service gave a generous love offering of $70 dollars to help Paul with his needs and expenses.

This last Monday, we sent Paul on his first plane trip ever, using funds graciously provided by the Coshocton 1st (Ohio) Church of the Nazarene. Paul is going to help his friend and partner in the Gospel, Kiethly. Paul plans to help him complete the church building, encourage him, and together, pastor this church.

The church is located in an area of a very active cargo cult named John Frum. This group is fascinating to study, but very difficult to evangelize. As a group they have almost no understanding about Jesus and the Bible. Many people from this area have never even heard a single Bible story.

Remember to pray for Paul, Kiethly, and the people of Aniwa. It is beautiful to see the body of Christ working together, each member doing his part in shining the light of Christ on this part of the world. Let's do ours!

October 2007: Potter Family News (Oct8/07)

Through your prayers and the power of God, the 40 foot container that carried all the building materials for our home was delivered duty and tax free.  There is no other explanation except that God heard our prayers and answered with a miracle.  We praise Him!

a joy it was for us when our sons, Jeffrey and Wesley, arrived near the end of May to assist us in our work here in Vanuatu.  Jeffrey joined up with a team of young men near the Black Sands church who played soccer.  He endeavored to show the love of Christ in authentic ways through the opportunities that God opened up.

Wesley made special effort to connect with the young people at Malapoa.  He was involved in the music group again and participated in the weekly NYI service.  He was able to encourage many of the young people that he had come to know as brothers and sisters when he lived here.

We are thankful for the help and support of many who have come to help us throughout these last 6 months.  Scot Riggins, our Field Accountant, came to help Sylvia by auditing the mission's financial books and giving some extra training.

Our Field Strategy Coordinator James and Joy Johnson came the first of July to help us get ready for the Work and Witness teams.  While they were here we hosted the first Pastor's and Wives Retreat and the Johnson's were our speakers.  They were both a tremendous support to us with James' knowledge of construction and Joy's experience in caring for W&W teams.  With James' help in organizing and directing the construction work, the footings for the house were all completed before the first W&W team from Arlington, Texas, arrived on July 10th. They remained with us to help in the construction until after the second team arrived and had gotten established in their work.  We are thankful for the opportunity Jeffrey and Wesley had to work alongside their Uncle Jim, learning many new skills.  The boys were able to help finish the roof of the house before they returned to the States at the end of July.

We are so grateful for the generosity of both of these two teams, the second one coming from Kennewick, Washington.  Not only did they do massive amounts of construction on our home, but they partnered with us in reaching out to the people in Vanuatu.  Both teams were involved in what we call Pikinini Club (Vacation Bible School.) Arlington team ministered to the kids near our newest Nazarene Church at Black Sand.  The Kennewick team canvassed the neighborhood of Malapoa and invited everyone they could find to come to the Pikinini Club at our first Nazarene Church.  Both teams had a powerful impact in the lives of the children and the adults that came to watch.

The Jesus Film was shown at Black Sand following the Pikinini Club with a good turnout of people from the community.  Spiritual battle had to be fought through prayer as the generator failed and the speakers blew a fuse.  We rejoice in the power of God that enabled the entire life of Christ to be seen and heard that evening by all who attended.

The Kennewick women provided a sewing class where they taught women from our churches and surrounding communities how to make a men's button-up shirt.  One of the ladies who attended the class reported last Sunday that she has since been able to make 25 shirts and help support her family.

After the two W&W teams left, two volunteer couples, one from Australia and one from the States, came to continue the work on the house.  We are so grateful for Don and Ruth Howie who completed the electrical work, and Max and Patty Huff who finished the inside plumbing.  Not only did they work on the house, but they shared themselves with the people of Vanuatu, Sylvia, Jenny, and 6 ladies from Vanuatu attended the International Women's Convention in Port Moresby, PNG. Over 800 women from PNG, Solomon Islands, Australia and Vanuatu attended this biennial event.  Keynote speaker and former Nazarene missionary to Russia, Rev. Carla Sunberg, challenged us to be holy women of God.  Inspiring workshops were held morning and afternoon on topics such as marriage and family, stewardship, and women in ministry.  Wednesday afternoon the convention attendees participated in service projects throughout.

We praise the Lord for his faithfulness in blessing this convention and for his protection over all those who were traveling.

David has appreciated the help of our partners, Revs. Peter and Jenny Isaac, in teaching courses for the Vanuatu extension of South Pacific Nazarene Theological College.  These are classes taught to prepare men and women to pastor or to be strong leaders in their local churches.  We are thankful for men and women who are faithfully attending these classes and for their current participation in the work of the church.

On the 30th of this month, the Nazarene churches of Vanuatu will hold their first-ever District Assembly.  We are excited to welcome General Superintendent Jesse Middendorf and his wife, Susan, and our regional and field leaders to this momentous event.  Thank you for praying for the Lord's Spirit to be poured out upon us as we look forward to what the Lord wants to do through his church in Vanuatu.

We would be remiss if we did not mention how much we have appreciated all of you as you have faithfully written notes and e-mails and sent cards to encourage us throughout these months.  You have been a blessing to us!  We wholeheartedly thank our LINKS district, Central Ohio, who have lavished gifts and cards on us and have cared for our two boys in college at MVNU as well.  We appreciate you more than we could ever say!  We could never do what we do if it weren't for you who hold us up in prayer.

Your partners in God's Kingdom,

David and Sylvia Potter

December 2006 (Dec8/06)

We returned to Columbus, Ohio, on July 5th, 2006, just 10 days before our eldest son, Joel, married Jim and Kathy Radcliffe's daughter, Bekah. It was a lovely wedding at Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and it truly honored Christian marriage and the Author of it. We were so thankful for the many friends and family that came to make this celebration even richer. Joel and Bekah are living in Steubenville, Ohio, where Joel is studying for a Master's Degree in Philosophy. It is a joy to be around them as their love for each other continues to grow.

Jeffrey and Wesley are both studying at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Jeff is in his second year and Wesley is just finishing his first semester. It has been such a delight to see them getting involved in ministry at their home church and in various ministries at the university. We praise the Lord for His bountiful provision for the school fees this year. Jeffrey received a scholarship that was awarded almost the very day that we went to pay his bill. That scholarship and others made it possible for both boys to attend this year without taking out a loan! We thank Him for His abundant goodness in our lives!

It has been our delight and privilege to be the first Nazarene missionaries to share with churches across North America the news of the Lord's work in Vanuatu. Our travels have taken us to Nazarene churches in Florida, Ohio, Washington, California, and Ontario (Canada). We've delighted in the beauty of God's creation as we have traveled this fall. We praise Him for protection all along the way. We haven't had to miss a single service because of weather or car problems. In January of 2007, we will continue sharing what the Lord is doing in Vanuatu with Nazarene churches in Olathe and Gardner, Kansas, several churches here in Ohio, and finishing up in San Diego, California. The Lord has richly blessed the services and God's people have responded generously in supporting His work in the South Pacific. As we shared the needs in Vanuatu, we asked God's people to be praying for revival. Special services were held in Vanuatu (November 3-5) with the four congregations fasting and praying in preparation. Here is a small note from Pastor Peter Isaac regarding the outcome of those revival services:

"We passed out invitation cards to our neighbors, families, friends and those for whom we've been praying. All of the church family gathered together praying, fasting, straightening-out our problems and differences, crying together and working together. Pastor David Tasso and Pastor Merriam Naunga led the worship services and Pastor Jenny and I preached the Word. God visited his church and we were all in tears. The flood gates of heaven just broke and blessings were flooding all over. Many were converted to Christ and many Christians recommitted their lives to Christ. Praise God!"

We praise the Lord for the Isaacs and the others who continue to minister in Vanuatu. Pastors Peter and Jenny Isaac arrived in Vanuatu just a couple weeks before we departed for the States. God is enabling them in this huge assignment. Please continue to pray for the anointing of the Lord to be upon them.

We thank the Lord for the opportunities that He has provided to be with family members throughout this furlough. Our Christmas plans include a trip to Colorado Springs to see David's family, and a trip to Michigan to see Sylvia's family, before returning to our mission home in Coshocton, Ohio. We praise the Lord for continued healing for Mom Potter who suffered a massive stroke a year ago after open heart surgery. We've been blessed to visit her several times during our deputation travels. She is still not able to speak or move the right side of her body. We are praying that this Christmas will be a sweet time of fellowship for her as we all gather to celebrate with her. Sylvia's family will be celebrating her parents' 50th wedding anniversary (actually 51 ½ years now) as they gather for the holidays.

We are scheduled to depart from Columbus, Ohio, for Port Vila, Vanuatu on February 11th. When we return to the field this time we will be trusting the Father to provide for our children while they all remain in the States. We would appreciate your prayers as we enter this new chapter of our lives. Please continue to pray for His sustaining grace. Also pray that we will be keenly aware of His presence with us and His enabling power as we go.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have opened your homes and hearts to us during our travels. Thank you to all those who have sent us encouraging words through notes and cards. You have been a blessing to us. Your prayers and encouragement have strengthened us in times of weariness.

May the Christ whom we celebrate be at home in your hearts this Christmas!

Living In His Joy,
David & Sylvia - Wesley, Jeffrey, Joel & Bekah

Wishing all of you a very joyous Christmas!

But as many as received Him,
to them He gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12

June 2006 (Jun8/06)

Psalm 125:1-2, "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore."

What a wonderful promise to know that He is surrounding us with his love and strength in all that we do.

We found out this week that the Papua New Guinea National Board of the Church of the Nazarene has approved and appointed Revs. Peter and Jenny Isaac to be missionaries to Vanuatu. We are excited and thrilled with this tremendous answer to our prayer for workers.  Peter has been serving as the chaplain for the Melanesia Nazarene Bible College.

Jenny was just ordained in their district assembly this year.  They will be coming to serve with us for the next 2 years. They will be coming with their 3 sons, Bennett (8 years), EnnRich (4 years), and Junior (4 months).  Please pray that their passports will be returned to them from PNG Immigration soon so they can secure their tickets to come to Vanuatu as soon as possible. Please pray that the Lord will help them and their families as they leave PNG and then as they embrace a new people and language here in Vanuatu.

We praise the Lord for Pastor David Tasso.  He is Taku's father, one of the strong Christian young ladies in our congregation at Malapoa.  Her parents have come to Port Vila in the last few months to work so that they can pay school fees for their other children.  Pastor David has been pastoring in another evangelical church since 1996, but has not been assigned a church in Port Vila.  He and his wife, Esther, are loving, Spirit-filled believers.  We are so grateful for his willingness to serve as pastor at the Malapoa church while we are away.  Please pray that the Lord will continue to lead them as they get acquainted with the people in this community and shepherd this growing congregation.

Just a few weeks ago we visited with Sonia's sister, Sofie, in Fres Wota.  This is where the newest Nazarene congregation has been meeting on Sunday afternoons.  Sonia had been saved several months before, and Sofie had come to the outdoor worship service on occasion.  But on that day, Sofie met us and asked for us to come to her small home.  She is the mother of 3 children.  Her husband left her many years ago.  She tries her best to provide for her family but finds it very difficult.  We sat together on the floor in her house which was put together with scraps of wood and corrugated tin, and she shared with us her hunger to know Jesus personally.  She wept as she shared about her life and the pain that she has experienced.  What a joy it was to lead her to Jesus through His Word and then to pray together as she asked the Lord for forgiveness and trusted for her salvation!  As we left that day, the change in her life was obvious.  Her face was glowing as she called out to her sister to let her know that we were leaving.  Please continue to pray for these two ladies, Sonia and Sofie, as they grow in grace.  It is their desire that all their family members come to know Jesus like they do.  Also pray for Graziella as she goes each week to share God's Word at this new church.  She has been a Christian for just about a year and is being used by the Lord to bring others to Christ and then to disciple them.

We have less than 2 months before we leave and there are so many things that we want to get done besides all the stuff like moving and passing on of responsibilities.  We would like to take a team of people to the island of Malekula to a village that has asked us to come. They want to be Nazarenes!  David took rice to them after the cyclone in 2003, and they've just contacted us about coming back to establish the Nazarene Church. We are making plans for a week long trip of training and encouragement.  We would like a team of about 10-12 to go and hold training sessions with adult and children's SS teachers, women's ministry, and youth ministry.  We'd also like to show the Jesus Film during the time and then have follow-up discipleship studies with whoever desires it.  We're not sure how we can fit this in before we leave.  Our proposed dates are June 12-19, but we need to find ships that travel in the right direction on the right days.  Please pray for these details and that the Lord would help us as we prepare and equip the team.

Please continue to pray for Nikki, the PLNU graduate who has been serving with us since last October.  She has just one month left before she will return to the US. We are still trusting the Lord for a leader to carry on the ministry to the prostitutes after she leaves.  Doors of opportunity continue to open every week to new individuals who need the love of the Lord Jesus.  Pray that the Lord would make his will for Nikki's future clear to her in these coming months.

This weekend we rejoice with Joel (our oldest son) in his graduation from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He is graduating with an Honors degree in Philosophy.  He plans to begin his graduate studies in philosophy in the fall.  We look forward to July and the joyous occasion of Joel's marriage to Bekah Radcliffe and the joining of our two families.

We are also very proud of Wesley (our youngest son) and his successful completion of high school.  He is eager for the next chapter of his life when he will begin his studies at MVNU, but he's also torn with the thought of leaving his good friends and life on the mission field. 

A few other prayer requests:

  • Pray that the Lord would give us daily wisdom and strength.  We will be packing all our belongings and putting them in storage during our time in the States.
  • Join us in fervently praying that the people of Vanuatu really open their hearts to the purifying power of the Holy Spirit so that they can be empowered to witness and serve.
  • May 26-27 - NYI camp.  Theme: Live a Life Worthy of the Calling.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in power and that many young people will be saved and sanctified.
  • May 29- June 9 - David is teaching his 3rd Bible course for people preparing for ministry – The Life and Teaching of Christ.  It will meet every week night 6:30-9:30. Pray for him as he prepares to teach and for all those attending that the Lord will give them understanding and wisdom.
  • June 30th - We must be out of our house.
  • July 4th - We fly back to the States.

We thank the Lord for your prayer support and all that He has done in answer to those prayers!  Great is His faithfulness!

Trusting in Him,

David, Sylvia, and Wesley Potter

March 2006 (Mar8/06)

"Quickly now, go tell his disciples that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!
Joy to the world!  He is risen!  Alleluia!" *

I (Sylvia) woke this morning with these words ringing in my heart!  The battle against Satan and hell was won triumphantly that first Easter.  Christ then sent out his disciples into all the world to tell of that great Good News.  That's why we're here in Vanuatu.  There are many in Vanuatu who know very well the story of Christ's death and resurrection, but they've never realized that it was for their sins that Christ died on that cross.  To them it is just a story from the past.  We are here serving a LIVING Lord whose blood still has power today to transform people from death to life.  Let me tell you about some of them…

We praise the Lord for recent victories in the lives of some of the men in our congregations.  Charlie was able to testify in church one Sunday morning of the Lord's specific answers to his prayers over this past year.  It was his first time to stand before anyone to give glory to God. Charlie had prayed specifically that God would release him from his habit of smoking.  The next day he had no desire for his cigarettes and hadn't smoked at all for the past week.  His victory over smoking was a great encouragement to Dickson who is addicted to smoking, as well as kava.  After listening to a sermon on TV about grace, Dickson sought forgiveness from his wife who he has abused, and then sought God's forgiveness.  In response to his new faith he came to church for the first time that Sunday morning when Charlie testified.  He has also prayed that the Lord would give him freedom from the habits that bind him.  We have been praying for William for several years.  He was previously a deacon in a different denomination but had wandered far from God.  He started coming to our church with his wife, came forward to repent and receive forgiveness, and is now attending the course that David is teaching.  We are praying for these men and many others that they will give themselves completely to the Lord so that their lives and homes can be centered in Christ. 

A new church has been planted in an area of Port Vila called Fres Wota!  Graziella responded eagerly to the call and is now taking a small core of believers from Malapoa to Fres Wota every Sunday afternoon to worship with Sonia and her sister and others in her "yard" (a group of about 6 homes).  Please pray for Sonia as she eagerly desires to live her life for Christ now.  Pray that her influence will attract others to desire fellowship with Christ as well.

Susan, Esther and James from our Malapoa congregation attended the national Community Health Evangelism introductory seminar this week.  Dr. Bill and Sharon Bieber, the representatives for Community Health Evangelism (CHE) with Medical Ambassadors International, were here for a week and taught the first group of people to be trainers in this program.  CHE is very similar to the Nazarene program called Community Based Health Care.  It is a highly effective program aimed at improving health in villages while at the same time spreading the Good News and meeting the spiritual needs of people.  Pray for the Lord's guidance as we look to Him for the site for our pilot project.

Thank you for your prayers for Nikki.  What a blessing she has been to everyone!  She has brought lots of creative ideas for the youth of our church.  There is a growing sense of accountability between members in the group as she helps them to deal honestly with each other and with their problems.  Please help us pray for these young people.  Many of them have grown up with very difficult family situations.  Some of them grew up in villages on outer islands and have come to Port Vila recently.  The city life here is full of lots of temptations that they find overwhelming.  Sexual immorality, drugs, and alcohol are all very big problems.  Pray that we will be faithful in showing and sharing the love of Jesus and that they will be transformed from death to life.  Pray also for the leaders of the youth group that they will become mature and equipped to confidently lead others.

Nikki has started a ministry to the prostitutes in Port Vila.  When she was first getting started she was told by several people that there were NO prostitutes in our city.  As she continued to seek the Lord's direction for this ministry, she became more and more aware of the extent of the problem here.  The Lord has given her a wonderful Vanuatu lady at the markethouse who has joined with Nikki in ministry.  This lady has a small business at the market where she prepares food for people who come to eat at her table.  She has opened her table on Wednesday evenings for ministry to the prostitutes.  Nikki gives out invitations to the prostitutes throughout the week telling them of the fellowship available to them every Wednesday at this lady's table.  Please pray for a person to come into the ministry that is called to carry it on after Nikki leaves in June.  Also pray for Nikki and the others working with her to have opportunities to connect with these men and women who need the love and compassion of Christ.

David is teaching the second South Pacific Nazarene Theological College course for the preparation of leaders for ministry.  This course is "Interpersonal Communications" which is a very different concept in this culture.  Much of what he is teaching will help with some of the communication problems that we have been dealing with in our congregations.  Please pray for understanding for each of the 9 students and for David as he prepares for these 3 hours of class each evening.

We will be having a week of special services starting Monday, April 10 leading up to Easter.  We are anticipating and praying for opportunities to be opened up for ministry to more people in the Malapoa community during this week.  Please pray that the speakers will be anointed with the Spirit of God and that the hearts of those who come will be sensitive and responsive to Him.

The Church of the Nazarene is officially registered with the Government of Vanuatu!  This has been in process for nearly 3 years.  We praise the Lord that this very important milestone was finally reached on March 20, 2006.  The registration profoundly impacts, in a positive way, many areas of ministry for our church.  Because the registration was finalized, the Church of the Nazarene is now able to complete the purchase of property on which a house will be built for missionaries.  We are looking forward to this Work and Witness project starting as soon as June or July of this year. 

Please continue to pray with us for additional workers in all our congregations.  We have some women and a few young men in the church who are filled with the Spirit and are responding to His call to serve.  But, there are far more opportunities than we have workers.  We are currently looking into the possibility of a PNG couple coming to Vanuatu to serve on the missionary team.  Pray that the Lord will open the doors for this to happen in His timing – this means a couple answering God's call to come and also the funding necessary to support them.

Personally, please pray for our health and strength.  Pray also that we would not succumb to Satan's temptation to be discouraged or overwhelmed, but that we would, instead, thank God "who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ."  We want to be ready and available to "spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere" we go and in everything that we do.  (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Some of you may be aware that David's mother suffered a massive stroke after heart surgery last November.  She has not regained the use of her right side and is unable to speak.  David's sister, Beverly Bynum, has been helping her and Dad in San Diego.  Mom and Dad were just flown to Colorado Springs where Bev and her husband live.  Mom will be cared for in a nursing home and Dad will be living with Bev.  We are trusting Mom to God's loving care and compassion.  Thank you for your prayers for David and his family during these days of transition. 

We will be returning to the US for our home assignment around the first of July.

Thank you for your continued prayer support.  We thank God for the blessing of your friendship and for your partnership in this ministry.  We are humbled daily by our inadequacy, but reminded at the same time of His awesome sufficiency! 

In His great joy!

David, Sylvia, Wesley and Nikki

*Words from "Easter Song" by Glad from The Acapella Collection CD.

February 2006 (Feb8/06)

Three weeks ago our missionary team along with 8 leaders from our church here in Vanuatu were in Fiji for the South Pacific Field Leadership Conference. Missionaries and leaders from across the South Pacific came as well; they came from Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji. It was a very challenging and inspiring time as the Holy Spirit spoke to us individually through our leaders, Dr. Louie Bustle, Rev. Verne Ward and Rev. James Johnson. We praise the Lord for the lives that were changed in response to the call to be sanctified. Wesley went forward to give himself completely to God on the first night of the conference. The Lord continued to work in his heart throughout the week. Many of us committed ourselves to a new level of relationship with our Lord as He revealed sinful habits that needed to be crucified in order for Jesus to reign supreme in our lives.

During each day we received instruction and were equipped with tools that would enable us to take the message of Jesus Christ back to each of our countries. God's Word was our instruction book as we discussed strategies for reaching the people of our islands for Christ. We had wonderful times of praying together, trusting the Lord for the salvation of people back home who needed Christ and also trusting Him for the courage and boldness we needed to do His will.

Before we even left the conference, Satan began his attacks. He began right away trying to bring division and dissension within our group. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul writes, "Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." Upon arriving home from the conference, Graziella's husband took her suitcase and began to burn all her clothes. We praise the Lord for her protection as her husband then began to abuse her physically. She hasn't allowed this incident to dampen her desire to tell others about Jesus. As a result of her witnessing, she has been asked to come to 3 separate locations to share in Bible study with other ladies.

Wesley had the opportunity last Friday to share with the youth about the new thing that the Lord has done in his heart. He shared with the power and enthusiasm of the Holy Spirit. Several young men came forward that night to pray and ask the Lord to come into their lives. We are grateful for the chance Wesley had to share with and pray for the young people.

Since then and throughout this week we have felt a spirit of oppression and discouragement. There have been more problems with division in our church at Malapoa. We are keenly aware of the fierce battle raging all around us. We need your prayers more than we ever have before. "Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere." Please pray:

Ø That we'll be bold and courageous and that we'll remember that God has won the battle against sin and Satan.

Ø That we will remain focused on Jesus Christ and not fix our eyes on the things around us.

Ø That God will give David clear vision for taking the Gospel to the people of all the islands of Vanuatu.

Ø That each of us will remain surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Ø For the breaking down of Satan's strongholds – men addicted to kava, broken marriage relationships, immorality, the culture of shame, gossip.

Ø That none of us will yield to the temptation to be frustrated or discouraged.

Ø For the marriage class on Saturday evenings, the youth Bible study on Tuesdays, the Sunday services at Malapoa, Tebakor, and Teouma, Wednesday night prayer meetings, various Bible studies in homes, ministry to the women in prison and to the prostitutes in Port Vila

Ø That the ni-Vanuatu leaders in our churches will be filled with the Holy Spirit and his love.

David and I were reminded this morning as we prayed, that the Lord has given us a powerful team. All of you who are praying are in the battle with us against Satan and his evil forces. We ask that you not just pray a little, but pray often and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit for these requests. Please pass these prayer requests on to your church or others that you know will join us in praying. May the Lord guide you as you lift these needs in prayer to His mighty throne.

Trusting in Him for the victory,

David, Sylvia, Wesley, and Nikki

December 2005: “Year in Review”(Dec8/05)

"In Him the islands put their trust."
Isaiah 42:4

Greetings in the wonderful name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! May the Lord bless you during this Advent Season as you prepare your hearts for the celebration of King Jesus who came, who comes and who is to come again. Rejoice with us as we look back over this year and review what He has done and is doing in Vanuatu!

Loveworks Vanuatu

The Lord poured out His blessing in countless ways as the 15 enthusiastic Point Loma Nazarene University students went into action. They joined us in ministry for 3 weeks during the summer and the Lord accomplished so much through their lives. The team conducted 2 children's clubs, showed the Jesus Film at 3 separate locations, began Bible studies for the youth at Malapoa, aired twice weekly on live radio with testimonies and praise songs, and conducted a weekend teen camp on the other side of the island. All 19 of us lived together in the Potter's house. The Lord blessed us with grace and love for each other. The light that they brought to Vanuatu continues to shine brightly in the lives of the people that they touched.


God opened a door for ministry in the village of Epule located on the other side of our island after Cyclone Ivy struck last year. One of the ladies in our congregation at Malapoa had family in this village. In response to the cyclone, we delivered rice to help this family immediately following the crisis. We have been invited back many times now to share the Good News of Jesus with them. The Loveworks team had an opportunity to share with the young people of this community in a weekend camp. In November the women of Malapoa and Teouma Nazarene Churches have returned to the village to hold a women's conference. Please pray with us for the Lord's clear direction for the future.

Teouma Nazarene Church

Meriam came to David almost apologetically to share with him what she had been hearing the Lord say to her. Since the children's club and Jesus Film showing at her village in Teouma, she had been sensing a need to establish a church near her home. She had been attending the Malapoa church and was one of the 3 received as charter members of the Malapoa Church. She had been serving faithfully as the NYI leader. Her home is located outside of Port Vila. There are no churches in her area and she was feeling burdened for the 50 people who stood after the Jesus Film was shown at Teouma indicating their desire to follow Christ. David was not surprised by her words since we had been praying that the Lord would open the doors for us to plant a church in her area. Meriam shared that she would like to help pastor the church. How exciting to see the Lord answering our prayers. Meriam led one of her neighbors to the Lord while working in her garden one day. Her friend, Leimawa is now a growing Christian and the Lord is doing tremendous things in her family. She is eager to know and follow the path of holiness. We ask that you continue to pray for Meriam and her family as they lead this small congregation.

Women's Conference – Solomon Is.

Sylvia and 3 ni-Vanuatu women flew to Honiara, Solomon Islands in September to attend the International Women's Ministry Conference of the Church of the Nazarene. It was a life changing experience for each of us. This was the first opportunity that our ni-Vanuatu Nazarenes had to meet other Nazarenes. The Vanuatu ladies met with Sylvia in their room after nearly every session to discuss what the Lord was saying to them individually. One of the ladies, Anna, described the experience as though the Lord was holding a mirror before her and she was seeing areas of uncleanness in her life for the first time. She said that the Lord would reveal sin on this side of her life and then the Lord would "turn her over" and reveal something on the other side. It was beautiful to see how the Lord was opening their eyes to his desires for each of them. We prayed together many times each day. They knew that the Lord was doing mighty things in them, and they were praying for his will to be done in their husbands and families as well.

These three women returned to Vanuatu with the fire of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They promptly shared what they had heard and experienced at the first ever Vanuatu Women's Conference held at Teouma Nazarene Church. Please continue to pray for the Lord to use these women to minister within their homes to their husbands and children.


In October David was privileged to baptize the first two Nazarenes in testimony of their changed lives. Leimawa was led to the Lord by Meriam in her garden. Graziella is the Potter's neighbor and has been changed by the grace and love of Jesus. She has a beautiful testimony of transformation.

Potter Family News

The year 2005 has brought many changes to our home. Jeffrey graduated from high school and returned to the States to begin his freshman year of college at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University. The Lord has wonderfully provided for Jeffrey and Joel's college education and for Jeff's transition back to the States. In September, Joel asked his childhood friend from PNG, Rebekah Radcliffe, to be his wife. We are thrilled that they have set July 15, 2006 as their wedding day since both Bekah's parents and our family will be back in the States on furlough.

We will be on home assignment July 2006 – February 2007. Mary Johnson in the World Mission Office is scheduling our deputation services. If you would like to have us come to your church, please contact her at or by calling Nazarene headquarters.

This will be Wesley's last year in Vanuatu. He will be graduating in June 2006 and will prepare to return to the States to attend MVNU with his brother.

If there are any churches interested in planning a Work and Witness trip to Vanuatu, please let us know. We rejoice that the Lord has provided a beautiful 2.5 acre lot to build a missionary home. We are still praying that the Lord will provide just the right pieces of property for our growing congregations.

We are privileged to have Nikki Roland, a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, serving with us until June 2006. She is already having a profound influence in the lives of the young people in our church. Continue to keep her in your prayers.

Prayer Requests

October 2005 (Oct8/05)

Dear Friends and Family,

The women gathered from 3 countries in Melanesia to attend the 7th International Women's Ministry Convention of the Church of the Nazarene.  They came from the highlands, the coast and the islands of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and, for the first time in Nazarene history, the country of Vanuatu.  They arrived by plane, by ship and by small boat to the capital city of the Solomon's, Honiara.  They came dressed in their brightly colored "uniforms."  The largest delegation arrived from PNG with over 60 women.  Five of the PNG delegates traveled for 2 days from the island of Bougainville.  The sea had been very rough for many days prior to their departure.  They prayed and trusted the Lord to provide safe travel for them.  The day of their final journey to Honiara was smooth and quick.  Sylvia and the three delegates from Vanuatu (Susan, Anna, and Graziella) boarded the plane in Port Vila and arrived in Honiara in the early morning hours on Friday.

The Convention began on Sunday, September 18th with a parade.  Each of the groups of ladies was dressed in their beautiful uniforms and carried a banner indicating where they were from.  Each delegation also carried their nation's flag.  They were led by a truck carrying a youth panpipe band playing choruses that were sung by the delegates as they marched the 2-3 km towards the church.  Many people joined the parade out of curiosity as the ladies marched past their homes.  The parade culminated at a large field located near the church where a stage had been constructed for the evening services.  There were many speeches, words of thanksgiving and gratitude, and then Pastor Geoffrey Manu opened the convention with a stirring message about the cross of Christ.

The theme of the conference was "Attractive Christians in Everyday Living."  Starting on Monday, the women gathered for teaching sessions in the mornings and afternoons and then again in the evenings with worship and praise.  The teaching and preaching was done in the power and passion of the Holy Spirit.  Many sought the Lord at the altar after each service. 

The Vanuatu ladies met with Sylvia in their room after nearly every session to discuss what the Lord was saying to them individually.  One of the ladies, Anna, described the experience as though the Lord was holding a mirror before her and she was seeing areas of uncleanness in her life for the first time.  She said that the Lord would reveal sin on this side of her life and then the Lord would "turn her over" and reveal something on the other side.  It was beautiful to see how the Lord was opening their eyes to his desires for each of them.  We prayed together many times each day.  They knew that the Lord was doing mighty things in them, and they were praying for his will to be done in their husbands and families as well.

The Vanuatu ladies knew that they had come to this convention representing the other ladies in the three Nazarene churches who were unable to attend because of the cost.  They felt very strongly that they needed to take this spiritual food back to these ladies to share with them.  In the morning of their final day in Honiara, the 4 ladies met together in their room and planned for the first-ever Vanuatu Nazarene Women's ministry conference.  They wanted to have it as soon as possible so that what they had learned would be very fresh in their hearts.  The theme of their conference would be "Beautiful and Attractive Women of God."  The conference was planned for September 30 – October 2nd and would meet at the Teouma Nazarene Church. 

The Lord continued to pour out his blessing as 25 beautiful women met in Teouma for the 1st Nazarene Women's Conference in Vanuatu!  Anna, Susan, and Graziella (the delegates to the Honiara Convention) led the services and taught the classes.  As in the Solomon's, many ladies came to the altar to pray and seek the Lord's help and power in their lives.  The Lord is moving.  Relationships that seem impossible for us to humanly work out, are and will be healed by our Lord who is the God of impossible situations.  God has begun a great work and will see it to completion in each of these beautiful women of God.  Please continue to pray for the Lord's transformation in these ladies' lives, their marriages and their homes.


Nicole Roland, a recent graduate from Point Loma Nazarene University, has joined the Vanuatu mission team.  She will be staying with our family until June 2006.  We are looking forward to see the areas of ministry that the Lord will open up for this eager young lady.  Please keep her in your prayers as she adjusts to a new home, new culture and language, and seeks the Lord's direction for these months of service.

We received notification today that the monthly rent that we pay for our home has been raised by over $500/month.  This new figure is far beyond our budget!  Please pray with us that the Lord will lead us to a home that is suitably located and that fits within our budget.  We are in the final steps of purchasing a piece of property to build a house on.  If there are any churches that are interested in bringing a Work and Witness team to help build us a new home, please let us know!!

Some of you may have heard that Wesley fell while playing soccer with the neighborhood boys and broke 3 bones in his foot.  The doctor applied a cast to his lower leg and loaned him a pair of crutches.  He has 3 more weeks to go before the cast can be removed.  Pray that Wes' foot will continue to heal properly.  About a week after Wesley broke his foot, David began to have severe pain in his lower right abdomen.  He was met by the doctor at the private clinic and advised that he should remain there for the night.  We are thankful for this clinic which also has 2 inpatient beds and nurses available to care for patients.  He was given wonderful care by a ni-Vanuatu nurse who had taught in a nursing college in Papua New Guinea for the last 10 years.  By morning his pain was completely gone (Praise God), and the doctor determined that he had passed a kidney stone.  We are thankful for the wonderful medical insurance that is provided for us by World Mission!

Now for the really good news!!  Our oldest son, Joel, requested and was graciously granted permission to marry his childhood friend and fellow MK, Rebekah Radcliffe.  Bekah is finishing her student teaching near Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and Joel is a senior at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.  They are planning a summer 2006 wedding when both their families will be returning to the States for a 7 month home assignment.  We all are rejoicing with them in this wonderful blessing!

We will be starting our home assignment in July 2006 and will begin deputation services in August.  If you are interested in having us come to your church, please notify Mary Johnson at to make arrangements. 

We thank each of you who have "labored" with us in prayer for the work here in Vanuatu.  Our Mighty God works in response to the prayers of his people.  We appreciate your words of encouragement through e-mail and cards.  We are so privileged to be a part of the "great family of God."  David has been meditating upon Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3 and we will close with this prayer.  "When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God–some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth–that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.   And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God's children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself."  Ephesians 3:14-19

Trusting in Him,
David, Sylvia and Wesley

September 2005 (Sep8/2005)

September 2005

We praise the Lord for his safety and protection as Sylvia and Jeffrey traveled back to the States at the end of July. It was a great blessing for them to be with family again and to visit some friends in the different places that they were traveling. Joel and Jeffrey were blessed to be a part of the first-ever MK Retreat held in Kansas City. We thank all those who helped to make it possible. Good-byes are never easy, but saying good-bye to Joel and Jeffrey at Mt. Vernon was the toughest one Sylvia has said so far. The Lord has given many reassurances of His provision during our separation. He is faithful as we step forward in obedience to His call. Keep Joel and Jeff in your prayers as Joel completes his final year of college and Jeffrey his first year.

While she was in Kansas City, Sylvia was able to have the medical tests done that had been recommended almost a year ago. All the GI tests came back normal and treatment for the anemia has been started.

We thank the Lord for bringing Sylvia back safely to Vanuatu last week. It has been wonderful to be reunited with David and Wesley after being apart for over a month. This week she will be leaving for Honiara, Solomon Islands, to participate in the Nazarene Women's conference. Three ladies from the first Nazarene church in Vanuatu will be going with her. Please pray for the Lord to pour out His Spirit upon the gathering of ladies from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The theme of the conference is "Attractive Christians in the Every Day World." Sylvia will be sharing one day on the passage from Titus 2:3-5, discussing our need to be make the gospel attractive in our relationships with our husband and children. Sylvia and the ladies will be leaving Port Vila on Thursday, September 15 and returning on Thursday, Sept. 22. The conference begins on Sunday, September 18 and is finished on Friday, September 23.

David continues to minister to the congregations here in Port Vila at Malapoa and Tebakor. He is in the final stages of purchasing land on which to build a missionary home. One of the pieces of land that we had hoped to purchase has fallen through, but we know the Lord has a plan and we are looking to him. Continue to hold David up in prayer as he begins preparation for teaching and training men and women for the ministry here in Vanuatu. He is hoping to hold his first class early next year.

Wesley has started his senior year of high school this week. He is excited about all his courses this year. One of his favorites is British Literature. He will also be studying Anatomy and Physiology, Greek, Church History, and French (at the French Embassy here in town). He is a very vital part of our mission team as he leads the Tuesday night Bible quizzing program and assists with the NYI service and music program. Please keep him in your prayers as he desires to bear fruit for the glory of God.

Thank you once again for your prayers. We are relying on your support in prayer for the women's conference and for our family as well. "The ones who do the planting or watering aren't important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose…We work together as partners who belong to God." (1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NLT). Thank you for your partnership in the gospel!

In His joy,

David, Sylvia and Wesley Potter