“He’s a very bad man!” warned our translator, Nia as we headed towards Carlo’s home on our first morning. Nia walked ahead of us to ensure that it was safe to continue. Carlos came out and Ron began sharing the reason for our visit. As Ron shared the plan of salvation and I repeated it using the salvation bracelets, I noticed tears rolling down his cheeks.
When Ron asked if he would like to pray and ask Christ into his heart, he readily agreed. When we left he was smiling and clutching God’s Word to his heart. Nia turned to us in amazement and said, “He’s not a bad man anymore.”
Crossing the River
On our second day in Black Sands, we visited some of Nia’s family. He claimed they would not listen to him when he shared Christ, yet several of them received Christ that day.
As we started to leave the area, Nia looked longingly across the swollen brook and said, “There are four families of my relatives over there. The mother is Bahia but most do not believe anything. The only way over is across the water and it is very high because of the rain last night.”
I (Sheila) looked at our granddaughter, Kelsie, and we both decided it was time to wade across the brook. We took off our hiking boots, climbed down the bank, lifted our skirts as high as we could, and started across. We climbed up the banks on the other side in our bare feet and eventually found several members of the family at home. God opened their hearts and four people prayed to ask God into their hearts.
We walked back down the bank, crossed the water again—getting a lot wetter this time—and climbed back up the other side to put our boots back on and continue visiting homes. Wow! Such a blessing!
On our last day, Ron headed in one direction with his crew while Kelsie and I started out with Nia and two new young people. At times the path proved too steep and rough for the wheelbarrow, requiring that boxes of Bibles be carried and the wheelbarrow left behind.
The plan was to join the other groups back at the church to finish our day but two young people from that village insisted that we needed to press on to one more area. We slipped and slid through the mud and finally arrived at a large field. Our group called out and many families emerged from the surrounding bush.
Altogether 32 families gathered to hear us and many received Christ. Praise God for these two young people who insisted we not turn back until we’d reached these families.
In an area Ron named “Dog Patch,” due to the alarming number of dogs around, we received another wonderful encouragement. One of the first homes we visited resulted in a lady coming to know Christ.
That woman followed us along, often running ahead and calling family and friends to come and hear what we had to say, and to get their Bible. She didn’t want anyone to miss out on the blessing she’d just received. She continued along with us throughout that entire area, calling her friends over, listening to the Word, and praying with us each time.
A Village Still Gathering
While walking the village paths with a local pastor, he asked if I was one of the Canadians who had been to Erromango in 2011. He shared that because of the daily Bible Study and praise sessions that we held while storm-stayed in the village of Port Narven, the people had changed. They continued to gather together with all the churches in one place each weekday to study God’s Word and praise Him. He spoke of the healing and blessings in that village.
What a joy to hear that although we’d had few Bibles to leave with them back then, they’d carried on the example of study, prayer and praise. Imagine how blessed they will be when a team arrives in their village to visit the homes and give them each copies of God’s Word.
As mentioned, back in 2011 on our first visit to Vanuatu, we discovered the great need for Bibles in the Bislama language. The few Bibles in print cost about $28 per copy—a cost too great for distribution. This time we returned with our granddaughter Kelsie and 40,000 Bibles!
The Council of Christian Churches in Port Vila, HCF Oceania, the Bible Society of the South Pacific, and the Canadian Gideons envisioned one Bislama Bible placed in each home in the country. Working with these partners, we initiated the plan: to share the gospel in each home, place all 40,000 Bibles, and begin training and encouraging local Christians to continue the work.
Over a two-week period we visited more than 3,200 homes. Over 10, 000 people came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. None of this could have happened without Jack Reuben from the Bible Society of the South Pacific. What a wonderful man of God!
On our first day, Jack arrived at the Assemblies of God church in Black Sands and gave instruction to the team and our helpers. Jack is well loved, well known and well respected by all the people in Port Vila. He required careful notes to be taken so that records would be kept of each family who received a Bible.
Jack picked us up each morning and drove us to the villages. He and Michael ensured that we stayed equipped with Bibles. Then he returned for us at lunch and at the end of the day.
All seven of us plus Jack and our backpacks crammed into his vehicle and travelled together, often over roads requiring artful dodging to avoid getting lost in the potholes.
Going door-to-door witnessing and sharing the Bible is as foreign and intimidating to Christians in Vanuatu as it is here in the West. So we took great joy in training and discipling young Christians to multiply our work.
After only a few home visits, our new friends were ready and willing to share in the witnessing venture. Nia, our 18-year-old translator and guide, along with Jennifer and her brothers, Ethel, and Mark stand out in my memory. After helping us for only three days in their own village of Black Sands, they walked the next day to our assigned village and continued to join the work for the next two weeks.
Jack Reuben felt these young people were now ready to go to the other islands to train and work alongside the Christians there and complete the work in Vanuatu. We shared his total confidence in their ability to finish the task. Perhaps our greatest blessing was to help prepare these young Christian leaders to work in the harvest field!
One evening Roger from YWAM came to the guest house to share with us that the pastors were impressed with what we were doing and the results they were seeing. Roger stated that we had accomplished more in five days than YWAM had been able to accomplish in twenty years. Changing their focus to spending more time in the villages with door-to-door ministry may bring results. They will no longer leave that mode of outreach to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Oh the joy of returning to the people of Vanuatu whom we had come to love two years earlier. Our young Kelsie had the awesome opportunity to share her faith with a people open to the gospel and lead them to Christ.
What does God have in store for all of us in the future? What has He taught us from this time together? Only time will tell.