Of the six international evangelism trips we’ve been blessed to take, this one proved to be perhaps the most physical and arduous of them all!
Unsettled, ever-changing weather conditions and uncertainties tested our small team in Vanuatu. For the rain, we simply bought new umbrellas. For the sunny times, we endured the heat. For the mud, we adjusted our footwear. For remote areas unreachable by vehicles, we loaded Bibles into wheelbarrows. For the few delays we encountered, we just learned to hang loose, be patient and watch it all work out.
Yet surprisingly, it is the trip stamped most indelibly in our hearts and spirits. All our efforts were expended for a good plan and purpose—that God's will be done for the Vanuatu people in these latter days.
And they responded beautifully. They especially opened up to the message of His love and grasped that He really, really loves them. These new believers often laughed, clapped and cheered with tears in their eyes. And repeatedly their faces broke out into those beautiful smiles!
In case you’ve questioned whether the prayer of salvation really has the power to transform lives, let me share how this trip confirmed that to us.
On our first morning, we hadn’t yet realized that the majority of people could actually understand our English, so instead we had them read out loud what we understood to be the prayer of salvation in Bislama at the back of the Bible.
Having been on all the international trips since Peru, we were puzzled because we could see that it wasn’t really connecting with the people.
At lunch break, we discovered that it wasn’t actually the prayer of salvation, but words about commitment. That afternoon we shared the gospel and this time we led them ourselves in a prayer to receive Christ.
We could see the difference on their faces and knew that they had truly received Him by faith. We reassured them that He would never leave them and that when they read their Bibles, God would speak to their hearts.
The Bislama language is wordy, resulting in a thick Bible fitting just 16 per box. This time the Word of God felt heavy like gold bricks, but with even greater value! Wheelbarrows did the trick of transporting them into hard to reach areas of Blacksands and Tagabe. Walking endlessly, we’d often return to the base church for more Bibles—a slow distribution process from house to house.
Another interesting observation affected us each time we saw it. After having prayed for salvation/rededication, I (Larry) asked the people for any other prayer needs for themselves and their families. Aside from health concerns, not one of them could think of a single request for anything they lacked! They remained perfectly content in their circumstances and this humbled me to no end as we observed it over and over again. Oh Canada...
A grandmother living in a thatched hut in the Tagabe community brought her little grandchild, David, forward for prayer. Dark-skinned with brilliant black eyes, he appeared obviously unwell. He remained perfectly quiet as he watched and listened to me.
When I leaned forward to pray over him, he immediately took his eyes off me and reached for the Bislama Bible in my hands! Not just once, but three separate times! It struck me later that this was a picture of the Vanuatu people seeking out the Word of God, worth more than gold.