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!