"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.