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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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