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.
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!