Friday, December 7, 2012

November 2012 Update

This is a cheater's way of getting caught up on our blog!  We are hoping to get some pictures posted soon of the newly completed Eluklom Church of the Nazarene where our District Assembly was held the first part of November.

We were blessed to share the first Sunday of Advent with two of our Nazarene congregations.  Then in the evening, we attended an international Christian gathering to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season.  We were reminded of the darkness of those days just before Christ was born on earth.  These verses from Colossians 1 captured our attention and led us to glorify the LORD for his wonderful gift to us:  “…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.  To them (you and us) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (26-27).”  What a marvelous message we have been given to carry to those in the darkness – a message filled with hope, light, and life!

May the Lord reveal the beauty and reality of his coming in fresh, new insights as we celebrate Jesus!

Have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Eluklom Church Building Project

The cement foundation and floor were almost
completed by the end of February.

The Eluklom Nazarene Church out at Eratap is growing fast!  This congregation is only about 4 years old, but is very active in reaching out to the villages around it.  They were challenged at the District Assembly last November to host the assembly this year.

They knew the shelter that they had been meeting in wouldn't be big enough, so they plunged into building a new cement block church.

This is what the building looked like about a month ago.

The family that started the church has a business of making cement blocks, as well as timber and other things.  They have finished the walls and are now ready to put the roof on.  The estimate is that the roofing irons and trusses will come to about US$20,000.  Each sheet of corrugated tin will cost roughly $100 and they have calculated around 60 sheets.  They are praying and we are praying along with them for the Lord to provide for this need.

John Kalorus - the father of six sons who own
the cement block business, also SPNTC student

We are very proud of their efforts, as they have sacrificed to provide the materials and have done all the construction themselves.  Most of the guys working on the church are SPNTC students, so when they are attending a class they put the church building on hold in order to dedicate themselves to their studies.

Just last week, we received a donation of $5000 (USD) towards the completion of the church which will encourage these hard working folks to continue to pray and believe that God will provide!  If you would like to know more about how you can help in this project, please contact us.  You can e-mail us at or by clicking in the "Contact Us" box in the upper left part of this page.
Walles (orange shirt) and Seul (green shirt), both are John's sons
and Sandy (red shirt) with Pastor Peter (middle).
Getting ready to lay the final blocks on the ends of the building.
Notice the baptistry in the floor just to the left of John (blue shirt).

Life and Times of the Potter's

On June 7th, we celebrated 32 years of marriage and friendship! 
Tamanu on the Beach Resort - Hibiscus Bungalow
 A few days later we got away to our favorite beach resort bungalow 
and enjoyed watching the waves and listening to them crash against the reef.  
We took an early morning walk and watched the sunrise.  
In the evening, the full moon was reflected on the ocean and we made moon shadows on the sand.  
Full moon over the Pacific
We are so thankful for the privilege of living and serving in this beautiful place!  God has been so good to us!

Tomorrow afternoon (July 31), we will be taking a much anticpated vacation!  We are flying back to the States for lots of fun with friends and family.  We will start off in Kansas City, then head to Truman Lake in Missouri for a Potter family reunion.  Then, it is on to Ohio to celebrate Tim Radcliffe's marriage to Bethany and to spend some time with Dora and Sylvia's other grandparents, Jim and Kathy Radcliffe.  We will drive up to Michigan and visit Sylvia's parents and Wesley for a few days before driving over to New York where Sylvia will get a medical check up, and hopefully David too!  We'll spend our last days of vacation going to the zoo and the park with our two favorite little girls!

Our Monthly District Gatherings

The last Sunday of each month at 3:00 in the afternoon, all the Nazarene Churches that are located in Port Vila gather together at one of the four locations to worship the Lord and fellowship together.  It is always a great time!  Our churches are fairly small, but when we get together we pack out the place!

At the end of June, Women's Ministries was responsible to lead the district gathering at the Black Sand Church.  The two district leaders met with Jenny Isaac and Sylvia to plan the program together and decided that each of the congregations would help to present a drama based on Acts 9:32-43, the story of Peter raising Tabitha (Dorcas) to life.  Metas had prepared a wonderful devotional from the story and each congregation provided ladies to act different parts of the story.  Black Sand Church provided Tabitha and the ladies who were attending to her when she died.  Vila North Church provided the mourners.  Prima Church had the part of the ones who ran to get Peter, and Eluklom Church provided someone to play the part of Peter.  It all came together beautifully! The ladies did such a good job of acting during the mourning part of the drama, that some in the congregation thought someone had actually died!

SPNTC Vanuatu - Teaching for Transformation

David teaching Theology 1

South Pacific Nazarene Theological College in Vanuatu has offered five classes so far this year.  Each class has been well attended with many new students enrolling this year.  We are so glad to be able to rent a beautiful, new classroom from Joy Bible Institute for our classes.  Pastor Jenny taught Wesleyan Holiness History in May/June.  David taught Theology 1 in July.  Pastor Peter will teach History and Polity of the Church of the Nazarene in August.  Each teacher prepares his or her own curriculum.  Because many of our students do not know English well, the materials must be translated into Bislama.  One change that has been made this year is that the classes are being taught for three weeks now rather than two. We have been trying to print and bind some "textbooks" for the students to use. We've gotten lots of positive comments from them and have heard that they have used their books to teach their children what they've learned and also used it to share with others in their churches.   It is exciting to see the students grow in their Christian lives as they participate in the classes!

Rev. Dave Kerr and the SPNTC Vanuatu faculty
Within the last two months, SPNTC got a new chancellor, Rev. Dave Kerr, who was serving for the last two years at Melanesia Nazarene Bible College.  He and his wife, Dr. Rosie, and their two daughters, Grace and Anna, are making the transition to a new culture and language in Fiji.  Dave came for a visit to Vanuatu while David was teaching this month.  He has lots of great ideas and is helping the college to take some giant steps forward.  He sat in on David’s classes and the two worked together on figuring out how SPNTC could operate more effectively across the five nations of Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Guam, and Vanuatu.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prima Church Update - Stoned, and THEN...

Gathered for worship at Prima Village
On July 1st, all the Nazarene churches were invited to meet at Prima Church to worship God and also to bring an offering that could be used to help the church construct a better church building. It is basically just a tin roof held up with bamboo right now. There were some drunk guys who were nearby trying to disrupt the service. They were constantly calling out. Pastor Gideon and Kami were on guard the whole evening! Then, after the sermon when the altar call was being given, someone from outside the worship area, threw some rocks toward the church - four in all. The speaker and the worship leader were both hit in the leg. The area where we were meeting was quite crowded, and we are thankful that no one was seriously injured. Also, the stones didn't hit the church's tin roof which would have made a lot of noise and caused everyone to be very alarmed. Most of the people didn't even know at the time that the stones were thrown. Pastor Peter went forward and began to pray in a very strong voice against the principalities and powers of the darkness and that the people who threw the stones would be convicted in their hearts. Holding the stones that were thrown, Pastor Gideon, Prima Church's pastor, closed the service by asking for prayer for the young men that threw them. He has endured much persecution as the pastor of this church. But, he has been faithful to continue to humbly lead the church and reach out to the people of the village. Thank you for praying for Pastor Gideon, his congregation, and the village at Prima.

Second ladies meeting at Prima.
L to R: Pastor Jenny Isaac, Rehab, and Naoia (yellow dress).
Three days later, Sylvia was scheduled to share at the first women’s ministry gathering at Prima Church. When she got to Prima, none of the ladies were ready. Most of them were just coming back from “swimming” (bathing) in the river. Kami, who has been a Christian now for about a year, sat and chatted with her and told her that the ladies would be meeting at the home of someone from the other side of the village. The other side of the village is under a different chief and he is very antagonistic toward the church. He has rejected all attempts that Pastor Gideon has made to reach out.

This was such a surprise after the service on Sunday!  God is answering prayer for this village and how exciting that Sylvia could be part of the first gathering on "the other side!" After everyone had gathered, there were about 15 ladies, 4 men, and lots of kids. Sylvia could tell that many of the ladies were not from any church as they did not sing along with the familiar choruses as the meeting began. Pastor Gideon’s wife, Aline, shared a testimony, and then Kami's wife, Naoia, gave a testimony in her own language. Sylvia could tell she was talking about how she came to know Jesus and the difference that it made in her life. Then it was Sylvia's turn!

Church of the Nazarene Articles of Faith Study Map
by Stephane Tibi, copyright 2008.

Sylvia began, "I've experienced new life like Naoia has been talking about!"  Then she shared her testimony of how Jesus took away her fears and gave her life.  After that she shared from the "Articles of Faith study map" and explained through pictures how they could receive forgiveness and new life too. The Articles of Faith picture guide was developed to help people understand what the Church of the Nazarene believes, but it is also very useful in sharing the plan of salvation. When she finished sharing and asked if any of them wanted to receive the gift of new life, they all raised their hands! She guided them in a prayer of repentance that they repeated after her. When we were shaking hands and greeting each other, all of them had such lovely smiles which was a big change from how they looked when they first arrived. Later she learned that the ladies stayed until dark talking with Naoia who clarified in their own language the things that they had heard.

New Testament in the language of the
Southwest Tannese people

Wycliffe missionaries, Ken and Mendy Nerhbass, just completed the translation of the New Testament in the language of these particular people who are from the southwest part of the island of Tanna. They now have a printed New Testament and recorded reading of the entire NT in their own language. Many of the ladies who met with Sylvia never learned to read, so an audio Bible would be a great blessing to them, especially in their own heart language! If you would like to assist us in getting audio Bibles and written Bibles for these people at Prima, please contact us!

" word that goes out from my mouth...will not return to me empty..."

Isaiah 55:11, NIV

"[It] is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,

it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, NIV

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pray for Prima

One of the big problems that we have noticed since we first came to Vanuatu is inadequate housing for the many people who come from the outer islands in search of work in Port Vila.  Generally, they have very little if any money to pay rent for an apartment.  Oftentimes they have family members living here who are obligated culturally to open their small accommodations to these relatives.  There is not enough work in Vila for all the people who come in search of it.  So, these folks tend to overstay their welcome simply because they don't have any other options.
Pastor Gideon

A couple years ago, Pastor Gideon started a church in the village of his wife's family.  They are from the island of Tanna and do not have any land of their own here in Port Vila.  At first they were staying at an abandoned pig farm.  The owner of the land gave them permission to remain and build their temporary homes on the land.  Gideon's father-in-law is the chief of the village and he gave Gideon a piece of land to put up a church shelter.  The Prima church has grown slowly but steadily.

Within the last 6 months, a village from several kilometers away, was kicked-off the land where they were living and asked if they could move into Prima.  So, there has been a huge influx of people into Prima village.  Now the village is very over-crowded.  There are young men who are causing trouble because of their drinking and drug abuse.  Threats are being made against the church and the pastor.

Aline and John
The Prima Church is in a perfect spot to reach people for Jesus!  We ask you to pray for Pastor Gideon and his wife Aline and their little boy, John, that the Lord will give them wisdom, grace and strength to reach out in love to those in the village who need Jesus.  Pray that they will be salt and light where Satan is working hard to hold people in the darkness.  Pray for the many new Christians at Prima Nazarene Church that they will grow and mature in their faith and will share that new faith with others.

"Jesus said, "I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, 
but will have the light of life."
John 7:12, NIV

Power of an Invitation at Black Sand Nazarene Church

Samuel, Ruth, and Roline - Makfin's oldest kids - became church members at Black Sand Church in February

Janet leading the children's Sunday School in a Palm Sunday drama
 One of our ministry responsibilities since early 2007 has been to shepherd the flock at Black Sand Nazarene Church.  The church has had its ups and downs.  Black Sand community has many, many people who are not following Jesus.  We sense that Satan has a strong hold over many of those people.  It was at this church that Pastor Gideon began to explore God's call to be a pastor.  He is now the pastor at Prima Nazarene Church a few kilometers down the road and serves as the district NYI leader.

When we returned from home assignment last October, the attendance at Black Sand Church was at an all-time low.  The congregation had experienced some huge set-backs including the death of little Maowe and some other family issues.  There are several very faithful women who have helped to hold the congregation together - Maowe's mother, Janet, and Makfin, a sweet mother of 4 school-aged children - both women are on the church board. David consulted the church board recently and asked them what they thought might help the church to grow.  They suggested having a meal together as a church family each Sunday and then to go to someone in the community and encourage them by praying for them.

The first lady we visited, Mary Ellen, was in church the very next Sunday, and seems eager to take part in the other activities on Sunday.  The next lady we planned to visit, came to worship with us the day we were planning to visit her!  Emma is bringing her children to Sunday School and even helping her daughter learn the memory verses each week!  The next week we went across the road to Natu and Albert's house.  Many other people sat down with us that afternoon.  This last Wednesday at our Bible study, Natu asked me to pray for the other people who live in her "yard" (group of homes) and for Albert to come to know Jesus!  It is always amazing to me how powerful an invitation is, especially when it is made with sincere love.  By the way, as the congregation is growing, the Sunday meal is growing too!  Please pray for these new folks that God will use them to draw others to Jesus and that all of our church members will grow in confidence in sharing Jesus and invitations.

"The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 
'We have found the Messiah' ...  And he brought him to Jesus."
John 1:41-42, NIV

South Pacific Nazarene Theological College

David is teaching his last class for his Old Testament Survey course tonight.  He has had 8 students attending.  On Saturday last week, he had the students meet at our house for several hours so that they would not have to meet on Good Friday.  During that time, he took them all to the Scripture Union bookshop and library in downtown Port Vila.  It was the first time that any of these students had visited the library.  SPNTC sponsored 80% of the $10 annual membership fee for each student, and each student was thrilled to have the privilege to check out a book for the first time!  We appreciate the blessing that this library is to the pastors and church leaders in Port Vila.  Some day, SPNTC will have its own classroom and library, but until then, we are thankful for the efforts of the Scripture Union missionaries and their ministry team.

Each of the 3 classes that have been taught since the end of January has been well attended and has seen a great response from the students.  Sylvia taught Old Testament Survey from the end of January into February.  On the last day of class, the students begged for more!

Pastor Peter taught Homiletics (Preaching) from the end of February till March 9th.  David and Sylvia got to hear the students preach their first sermons!  It was obvious that Pastor Peter did a good job of teaching.  Each of these students will have more opportunities to continue to develop their sermon preparation and delivery in their individual churches.

Rev. Dave Kerr has been recently elected to be the first chancellor for SPNTC.  He and his wife, Rosie, and their two daughters served for the last two years as missionaries at Melanesia Nazarene Bible College in Papua New Guinea.  They will be moving to Fiji in the next month.  Please keep them in your prayers as they make this big transition.  There are some big changes in store for SPNTC.  We look forward to sharing about the new look of SPNTC as it develops!

Please continue to pray for teachers and students in the upcoming classes.  Our desire is that these courses provide opportunities for spiritual formation for both the students and the teachers.

Remaining courses for 2012:

Wesleyan Holiness History, May 7-18 (Jenny)

Biblical Theology I, July 2-13 (David)
History and Polity of the Church of the Nazarene, Aug. 6-17 (Peter)
Church History I, Sept. 24 - Oct. 5 (Sylvia)
Doctrine of Holiness, Nov. 19-30 (David)

School drop-outs and Windows XP

The educational system in Vanuatu is different than the system in the USA.  Parents must pay school fees from their own limited financial resources.  Our partners, Peter and Jenny Isaac, have all three of their boys in school now and are paying about $650 in school fees, not counting uniforms, textbooks, and transportation for each of their boys.  For people who do not have much money, this is a huge effort and is often helped by relatives.  But, there are many children who never get a chance to go to school because their parents don't have the money.

Another difference in the educational system here is that students are required to take big exams at the end of the year that test all that the student was supposed to have learned throughout the year.  If the student doesn't do well on the test, his family may decide that it isn't worth the money to continue paying for his/her school fees and the student drops out.

A young lady in our Black Sand Church took her 9th grade end-of-year exams last year and did not pass.  Her parents are also paying school fees for her younger sister and younger brother, and there is one more little brother who will be starting school soon.  So, Roline was told that she would no longer be going to school.

Commonly, these young ladies will end-up becoming young mothers within a year or so.  After praying and discussing with Roline's parents, we offered to have her come to our house once a week to learn some basic office skills and housekeeping.  Sylvia spends an hour discipling and mentoring Roline, before moving on to more technical training.  Roline has learned to use the comb binder machine and helped to create the textbooks for David's latest class, as well as, other books.

We would like to help Roline (and perhaps other young people) have the opportunity to learn some basic computer skills and keyboarding.  We have an older desktop computer that needs a Windows operating system.  When we purchased the computer here in Vanuatu, we were not aware that the Windows XP program that was installed was not authentic.  If you have used Windows 98 or Windows XP on your home computer (and are no longer using that program) and have the installation CD's as well as the product key code, please drop us an e-mail!  We would be glad to put them to use!

Beautiful Vanuatu

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Psalm 24:1, NIV

We wanted to share a few pictures to give you a glimpse of the tropical paradise that we call home!
Yes, these flowers are REAL and they grow like weeds in our yard!

Cows grazing in paradise.

We call these dainty little blooms - fairy lilies!

A bumper crop of guavas was turned into...
guava-ginger marmalade!

One of our favorites...lavender irises that bloom from February till April.
In our country, the fence posts sprout leaves and become trees!

Red hibiscuses....
and white hibiscuses, too!
This is an interesting one - red, frilly hibiscus (our name for it).

So much variety!
These orchids bloom just outside Sylvia's kitchen window. 

This tiger striped orchid has lasted for over a month!

We delight in the beauty that God has provided all around us!  We always have flowers blooming and there are usually different fruits waiting to be harvested.  We praise God for his bountiful provision!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our "New" Horse

Hyundai Galloper II, 4WD, SUV, 7-seater - the Potter's "new" horse
"You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, 
his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus."
Philippians 4:19, The Message

Though earlier in the week, we were told that it was no longer for sale and would be sailing with its owner to Espiritu Santo on a ship, the truck we asked you to pray about was purchased and  transferred over to the Church of the Nazarene on Thursday afternoon to help with our ministry in Vanuatu!  Praise the Lord!  The Hyundai Galloper II appears to be a strong workhorse.  It went right to work helping Sylvia travel to her Old Testament survey class in the evenings and helped David with purchasing corrugated roofing irons yesterday to be shipped to Tanna for the congregation at Lawangi. 

In class on Thursday evening, Sylvia shared a devotional with her students that focused on God's revelation to Abram in Genesis 17:1.  God revealed himself to 99-year old Abram as El Shaddai, the all-sufficient God who is all-powerful and bountiful in his blessing.  Abram and Sarai were given a son in their old age, the fulfillment of the promise of El Shaddai.  They named their son, Isaac, because the thought of two old people having a baby was pretty funny and filled their lives with laughter.  The Galloper seemed like a very small-scale example to us of El Shaddai's all-sufficient, all-powerful, bountiful way of blessing and provision! 

Thank you for praying!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Vehicle for Our Work

We asked you all to pray about our need for a vehicle here in Port Vila and God has been guiding us.  For the past 2 weeks, we have been getting lots of rain.  The road that turns down the hill toward our subdivision has become a muddy mess.  The Lord helped us realize that the van that we were considering would not be a good choice. Without 4-wheel drive, it is impossible to get back up the hill.  So, we narrowed our search to a 4WD vehicle.  

Last Sunday, a friend of ours informed us of a 4WD truck that an American missionary (Terri) was wanting to sell for 700,000vt, the exact amount that we could spend!  We checked it out on Monday and were very pleased with how the truck drove and that it only had 50,000km on the odometer!  It had only been on the rough roads of Vanuatu for a short time since it had been imported from overseas.  But, there were some things that had to be worked out regarding the registration before we could consider purchasing it.  They seemed like insurmountable barriers so we prayed and asked the Lord to work it out so that He would be glorified.   

Last night, the registration was signed over to the missionary making it possible for us to buy the truck.  In the process of working out the registration, family relationships that had been broken were reconciled.  Praise God!  Before she sells the truck to us,  Terri wants to be able to purchase another smaller vehicle to take the truck’s place.  Her search today has made her realize that vehicles in Port Vila are expensive, even ones that are not running!   

The Lord has done so much this week to show he has heard our prayers!  Please join us in praying that our new friend, Terri, will locate a vehicle that meets her needs and her price range.  Whether or not it works out for us to buy her truck, we continue to trust the Lord to provide for our transportation needs. 

Next Monday, Sylvia begins teaching a class for SPNTC which will meet every evening for 2 weeks.  Having a vehicle would be a huge convenience!  She is excited that at least 10 students have signed up to take Old Testament Survey.  Pray that the Lord will make the course a life-transforming experience for each student.