(Year End News)
Dear Friends & Supporters,
We trust that throughout the year 2008, God has given you His peace and power to rejoice in His goodness and overcome the many challenges life can bring. We rejoice with you in the work He has given us to do in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. We have just returned from our 6th mission trip and it has been another great success. We give Him all the glory and praise for this. We left our home in the Kootenays on September 27, 2008 and safely returned on December 6, 2008.
1. Bible distribution
2. Showing the ‘Jesus’ film
3. Prison Ministry
4. Baseball Ministry
Soon after our arrival we began the baseball ministry with the youth of Port Vila. The Vanuatu government was especially supportive and encouraging as we introduced this new sport to their country. We are very greatful for the uniforms and equipment that was donated by enthusiastic supporters here in Canada. We were amazed at how quickly these athletic youth caught on to the game, having never played it before. The whole baseball experience was especially rewarding as we were able to share with the youth during ‘rest time’ several Bible stories, truths and prayers which were all well received. The last day of the games, Bislama Bibles were given to the many youth and youth workers. Before we left Vanuatu, a committee had been formed at the government level, to organize and continue the work that we began with an emphasis on God being the centre of this new sport.
In October we also visited Port Vila’s high risk prison. The inmates greeted us with cheers, singing and handshaking. They had not had a visitor in seven months and were very glad to see us. Most of the prisoners were very young men. The prison officials allowed us to show the Jesus film after dark in the court yard and after the film ended we gave out 42 Bislama (common language) Bibles. While we were crouching down to open the cartons of Bibles, hungry prisoners gathered around us and desperately held out both hands pleading for a copy. They were given a message of hope that evening and we reminded them of 1John 1:9, and that God is still able to forgive and cleanse all sinners hearts today.
Showing the Jesus film in their common language was a special treat for the islanders. Many had never seen a film before and it was especially moving for them to see the life of Christ on the big screen and in their own language. The challenges for us were varied and many, sometimes involving walking on a slippery trail for several hours before arriving in the village with the film equipment, other times being aboard an open boat for hours before arriving at a remote village. It was also challenging always setting up and taking down the equipment in the dark. Over the course of our 10 weeks abroad, we showed films about 30 times, both in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
On October 21, 2008 we flew from Port Vila to Honiara, Solomon Islands. From there we took a small plane to the island of Taro, then boarded a small open boat and headed for the Shortland Islands. We could see Bouganville, Papua New Guinea in the distance. One feels very small in a little open boat on the vast seas. While in the Shortlands we visited several villages distributing Bibles in the common language, Solomon Pijin and showing the Jesus film. These islands had been hit with the tsunami in April 2007 and some lives had been lost and property destroyed. Over the course of our 10 day stay in the Solomon Islands we also visited Choiseul Island (another long boat ride) to the village of Sassamunga. There we gave out Bibles and showed the Jesus film to approximately 500 people one evening. Before leaving Honiara we also visited a prison outside of the city, giving these prisoners Eternal Hope as well.
Returning back to Vanuatu, we headed south to the island of Tanna to take in the celebrations commemorating 150 years since the gospel came with John G. Paton. It was a surreal feeling to be at Port Resolution on November 5th, the exact date the missionary first arrived. We were the only representatives from the ‘outside world’ and were priviledged that we were chosen as the Paton Family representatives. We gave out 150 Bislama Bibles at this occasion and there was great excitement, singing and happiness. A new community came forward for Bibles that day too and were appointed a pastor to shepherd their new church. We made a short stop and visited our friend Chief Isaac Wan, leader of the cargo cult. He now confesses that he is a Christian and asked us for more Bibles which we gave to him for his people. From there we went to the island of Aneityum where we gave out 160 Bibles in memory of the anniversary of the Canadian missionary John Geddie who had arrived in 1848 with the gospel for the first time. The church ruins are still there and a monument marks his acheivements, “When he landed in 1848 there were no Christians here, when he left in 1872 there were no heathen.”
We then set our sites on the mission north to Santo, Malekula and Pentecost. Again Bibles were distributed and the Jesus film was shown to many villages, including many remote places like Meleken on Malekula where 8 rivers had to be crossed on foot before getting the Word of God in to them. While on the island of Pentecost we walked into a remote mountain village with Bibles. Once we arrived the chief of this heathen village informed us that he could not accept any Bibles because he was concerned the other area chief may burn them. We thanked him for his concern over the Bibles, and we then told him our history of how God led us to Vanuatu and also shared the story of the Prodigal Son with him (and the other village men gathered around, dressed in very sparse, primitive custom attire). We told the chief that God loved him too and had a plan for his salvation through His son, Jesus Christ, he then commented that our words were true and good and accepted them. Suddenly, the chief began a conversation with ‘Boolue’ a local villager. Boolue wanted a Bible, which the chief then granted to him. So we happily and publically gave him one Bible, then challenged him with the words, ‘now the light has come, you have the talk of God, and you have a responsibility to share it.” We then closed with a prayer and the village received it with a joyful clap of appreciation. On the long treaturous walk back out, with the Bibles on our shoulders, a sense of real joy enveloped us all because the light had come to them. One neighboring pastor commented that he believed it would not be long now before Bunlap would turn to God and receive Christ. We left a carton of Bibles with him for the village of Bunlap when they were ready to receive them.
It is our prayer that the 1300 souls on 12 islands, who received a Bible this past year will truly receive His Words, read them, live by them and grow closer to Him, sharing the Good News with others. Thank you for your prayers and your financial support which made this mission possible. One day, in eternity you will see what an eternal difference you have made in these lives. We already have several requests for Bibles from other islands that we have not been to yet. We look with expectation to see what great things God has planned for 2009. May you feel God’s peace and presence in your lives as the new year approaches.
Sincerely in Christ,
Dave & Abby Dever