We had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Vanuatu again for a period of ten days from the 09th to the 20th of September. This is the third of three visits made since February with the purpose of establishing the work in this island nation.
The leader of the Vanuatu Church Bro Don William had initially arranged for missionary trips to two islands outside of Port Vila the capital, Epi to the north and Tanna to the south.
We left Port Vila airport early Friday morning, 10th September on a small, 8 passenger plane for a 30 minute fly to Epi Island. On reaching the island’s airstrip, there was a truck waiting for us which took us on a 2 hour ride through a bush road passing villages’ coconut plantations until we reached Bro Don’s place. We were well received by Bro Don and his family who were awaiting our arrival and soon after led to our accommodation for the next six days, an eight sided traditional round house of thatched roof and plaited bamboo walls which was conditioned to the island’s hot sun and cooler nights.
Surrounded by vegetation, Bro Don lives alone with his family on his land, where he does subsistence farming as well as copra and peanut farming for commercial purposes. He also has a little church building on his land with members from surrounding villages and also those who live on his land. Since being baptised in June, he has been preparing his church members for this visit, and though met with some opposition from his former brethren Bro Don with his faithful group continued to uphold the truth.
Pastor Anton Salavyov opened the meeting that Friday evening with the subject of True Sabbath Rest experience under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as opposed to the round of meaningless formality now practiced widely.
Similarly, for the Divine service meeting he presented the subject ‘The True Gospel in Three Measures’ wherein was simplified by the various biblical parables the prophesied experiences of the three angels message for God’s true people.
We had lunch together with church members who walked even as long as three hours to reach the church.
On Sunday morning the members were invited to a massaging workshop by Pr. Anton Salavyov, where he made practical presentation of some massaging methods, to relieve any physical bodily pain or disease by applying pressure and massaging certain parts on the palms and the feet that have direct remedial effect to the diseased area. This was found to be a very great assistance to the local people who by understanding this skills could help their own physical problems as well as others in their localities.
Monday was a special day, where a combined celebration of two marriages, baptism and acceptance of 15 souls took place. We began the day with Pr. Anton Salavyov conducting the baptism of fifteen brothers and sisters who renewed their covenant with the Lord by taking the stand with God’s remnant people. Not only was this occasion witnessed by a few of us but we were joined by a good number of nearby villagers and Adventist brethren who came in as well wishers for the new converts. A positive sign of reception of the Lord’s work amongst this islanders.
The marriage ceremony followed after, when two couples recently baptized were united in a single wedding session. Unique, in a way as Pr. Anton Salavyov described, this was the first double marriage ceremony he conducted. It was a sight to see, as families and relative all gathered to witness and greet the newlyweds in their customary manner. The small church was fully packed inside with people left standing and listening from outside as Bro Anton conducted the service ending with the blessings on the new families.
We had the wonderful opportunity of talking with a lot of people who had gathered during lunch, and we felt that it was the Lord who had allowed for this occasion to occur just when we made the visit as a means of bringing a lot of people together into this isolated spot to witness and hear the message in a practical way. Pr. Anton Salavyov continued to perform massaging for people gathered and of course this has paved the way for interaction and relation for future work among this people.
On Tuesday evening, the baptized members after being accepted had their first Holy Communion service and foot washing. Then followed, the re-organisation of the work in the Vanuatu Field which is pioneered by this 15 baptized members. Though remotely located, and far from our expectation, the Lord has elected his work to begin from this humble locality for Vanuatu. Pr. Anton concluded our Epi meeting with words of encouragement to the members take on their responsibility with courage and keep moving forward fully relying on the promises of the Lord.
To strengthen and maintain the work as now established, it was duly agreed that Bro Don William as the appointed leader for the Vanuatu field be ordained to the work as an Elder, and accordingly Pr. Anton conducted his ordination.
We flew back to Port Vila on Wednesday morning.
Early on Thursday morning, we boarded the airplane for the southern island of Tanna where Bro Don has made contact with a number of people. Like Epi it was also a 35 minute flight. We reached the island and were transported by local minivan to the village of these interested people. We were accommodated at a bungalow next to the beach and were expecting that our time should be fully utilized since we would only be spending a day and returning early the next morning to Port Vila. However, we had to wait quite longer than expected. A little after midday, 5 young men availed themselves and had a detailed study session with Pr. Anton Salavyov. At the end of the day we were able to confirm these young men taking their stand for the Lord, and the work to be established in Tanna in three weeks’ time by Bro Don.
Additionally, we had a wondrous visit during the night to the volcanic site and witnessed the amazing fireworks of the molten rocks erupting wildly from the deep cavern into the air. We had the real experience of seeing what hell would be like as a lake of erupting fire. May we be the true wheat lest we be found tares bound for the fires of hell! Yes, we have truly seen its terrifying scenery!
We flew back to Port Vila on Friday morning.
Though we had interest in the outer islands we felt it was vitally important to have our people in Port Vila as well being the capital and center of the country. Despite, the difficult reception of the work encountered by Bro Don in Port Vila, we had the feeling that God will open a way for our message to be received in this location.
We accompanied Bro Don to his Port Vila home situated a half an hour walk from our motel on Sabbath morning. We received a warm welcome from his two daughters, a son in law and two grandchildren. This was where we spent the Sabbath hours. We had a wonderful time beginning with the Sabbath school lesson, then Bro Anton continued with a detailed study of Christ’s Righteousness as conveyed in the book of Job.
Soon after lunch further clarification continued with these members, in conclusion all three accepted the message, with the couple taking first step of baptism early Sunday morning in the waters of the Port Vila capital. Soon after, the son in law who works for a printing press was to assist Bro Don in all matters of the work in Port Vila.
As I board the plane for Fiji at mid-day, Bro Anton remains to conclude the work of acceptance and Holy Communion sealing the work of the Holy Spirit in Vanuatu, and leaves for Sydney later in the afternoon.
Again I take this opportunity to thank the Lord for his protection and care for this trip and also Pr. Anton Salavyov for his guiding leadership, the Union for its full support towards the trip, our families for their sacrifices and prayers and not forgetting all friends and brethren who have tirelessly offered prayers and thoughts for the Lord’s work in this region. We salute you for your tremendous support and we continue to look forward to your continued support in future commitments.
To conclude we wish to leave you with this noble text of Psalm 149:5, 6
‘Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high places of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand.’