Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jeff and Josh

We’ve been praying a lot lately for open doors as we seek to share the truth of God’s word with the people of Vanuatu.  We’ve also received several requests from brethren stateside wanting to know about specific prayer requests.  We submit the following blog entry in answer to both.

Recently, I made a quick two-night trip to Vila to meet with Aaron and purchase some supplies for Malekula.  The taxi driver who took me to the airport, Josh, was a young man from Tanna Island.  As most do, he inquired about our work in Vanuatu and I was happy to talk to him about it.  He shared with me that he works regularly with an inter-denominational youth group.  As we drove past the building where the church in Vila worships, I pointed it out, and he excitedly responded that he lives only a couple of blocks away, and had considered visiting services several times.  I gave him a formal invite to services, and also encouraged him to attend our upcoming Pacific Islands Bible College courses.  He seemed very interested, and I hope that I will indeed be able to catch up with him then.

Since I was relying on public transportation to get me to the airport, I ended up arriving quite early.  After checking in for my flight and taking a seat in the waiting area, a well-dressed man sat down beside me and introduced himself as “Jeffry Liu, but you can call be Jeff” (our entire conversation was in Bislama, though it was clear that he speaks English very well).   I soon learned that he is from Ambae Island, but is living in Vila fulfilling a four year teaching contract - he tutors students to prepare them for university courses.  He too inquired as to where I was going, and how long we had been in Vanuatu.  I gave him a brief overview as he asked the usual questions (where are you from, what church, on what islands is your church present, etc.) and he then asked a question I had never been asked before: “what is your mission?”  I told him that I came to Vanuatu to teach the word of God to those who are interested in changing their lives to fall in line with His plan.  Jeff really lit up with that answer, and said that he wanted me to come to his village in Ambae sometime to teach the Bible.  He has a break from school in December and January, at which time he plans to return to Ambae, and we tentatively set up a plan for me to go with him early next year.  He also told me to contact him next time I am in Vila for a month, and he will give me the opportunity to preach one Sunday morning to his denominational group.  We exchanged numbers, and Jeff actually called me a few nights later, “just to say goodnight” and confirm our plans.  

Please be praying for these exciting opportunities.  God is good!

Monday, August 13, 2012


The 29th and Yale congregation in Tulsa, OK, which has been supporting us financially “since the beginning”, asked if there were any opportunities associated with the Vanuatu work that they might be able to take on.  Knowing that they are heavily involved in the World Bible School correspondence course program, I suggested that they place an ad in the Vanuatu Daily Post offering courses.

We have done so locally in the past, but I figured offering English courses with a USA mailing address might interest a different segment of the population.  Sure enough, within only a month of placing the ad, three locals requested courses.  And just before I loaded this post, I received word of a fourth.  As they progress, I will begin following up with them in person.

Funds have been given to place the ad in the newspaper every other month for a year.  We pray that many will take the opportunity to study and obey God’s word!

World Champ

During our most recent trip to Southwest Bay, I got to meet a Vanuatu celebrity - Kali Jacobus, a.k.a. “The Malekula Kid.”  He is the current WBO super middle-weight title holder (I saw one of his defense fights in Port Vila a couple of years ago).  He lives in Lembinwen Village, and recently built a market house in the village with some of his winnings.  Locals from the surrounding area bring their produce every Friday to sell.  While the ladies were perusing the produce inside, I visited with the champ.  He is a super nice guy, and though he is one of the richest people in Vanuatu, he remains very humble and quite generous.

We tentatively scheduled a “lobster outing” for the next time I am in the village, which basically means we’ll go out in his outrigger canoe after dark and he will dive for lobsters.  I am looking forward to it and hope that I can forge a friendship with him that will produce spiritual fruit.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Return to SWB

Ten days after returning from my first trip to Lembinwen Village, we took another team to encourage and teach.  This time I was joined by my entire family, as well as Jean Claude’s family (wife Leisande, and teenage sons Wesly and Bronsly).  We boarded the truck about 6:45am, and the boat we had arranged was already at the wharf waiting on us when we arrived (MUCH better than last time - although this time we had to charter the boat and it cost double the price of our last trip - guess you get what you pay for?).  

The seas again fooled us in the beginning into thinking that we would have smooth sailing, but before long we were riding the waves.  The trip took less time (3hrs) than our prior trip (4hrs), mostly because we had a more experienced captain handling the 40-horsepower outboard motor and we made no extra stops.

There was some confusion as to whether we were going to go on Thursday (as originally scheduled) or Friday (the day the regular service boat was scheduled).  Aiel and Nancy were therefore somewhat surprised when we came ashore just before lunch on Thursday.  The ladies quickly got things settled in the house and put together some food for our lunch.  It was immediately obvious how much Nancy appreciated having Shawnda and Leisande there.  They were all good friends within moments of meeting each other.

Following lunch, Shawnda and Leisande studied with Nancy for about an hour, mainly answering her questions and discussing the cost she was counting.  As a result of that time together, Nancy made the decision to be baptized into Christ.  We all walked down to the ocean where she made the good confession and Jean Claude immersed her.  It was wonderful to see this couple now complete in Christ.  I am not sure who was more excited - Aiel or Nancy.  Though they have been ridiculed by many in the village for their decision to break free of denominationalism and embrace true Christianity, they seem solidly committed to leading a faithful life for Jesus.

We spent time singing, studying and visiting together over the long weekend, and enjoyed another simple worship service together on the first day of the week.  It is truly amazing how strong the bonds of friendship are inside Christ - what a blessing!

I am planning to visit them once a month for the foreseeable future, and the congregation here in Tulwei is planning to conduct a weeklong Gospel Meeting there the second week of November.  Please be praying for this couple, as they let their lights shine in their community.  Pray that we will be led to more truth-seekers in the area.

Mission Team 2 - Brandells with Jean Claude, Leisande, Wesly and Bronsly

New sister in Christ - Nancy (far right)