CYCLONE ‘PAM’ This is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the history of Vanuatu which is used to regular earthquakes and associated tsunami. As it neared Vanuatu the winds reached a speed of 165mph. Catastrophic damage has occurred on the islands of Erromango and Tanna – every structure has been severely damaged or destroyed. Only concrete buildings remain but these have lost their roofs.
"Boat Graveyard 14 March 2015" by Graham Crumb/Imagicity.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boat_Graveyard_14_Marc h_2015.jpg#/media/File:Boat_Graveyard_14_March_2015.jpg
THE HISTORY OF VANUATU In 1774 Captain Cook landed on the Islands of Vanuatu and named them ‘The New Hebrides’. This name persisted until they declared independence in 1980. John Geddie arrived as a missionary on the island of Aneityum in 1848 and ministered to the people there for the rest of his life. John G. Paton landed on the island of Tanna in 1858. Settlers arrived during the 19 th century establishing cotton, coffee, cocoa, banana and coconut plantations. These were mainly French and British subjects. This led to the establishment of a British-French Condominium. In 1980 the republic of Vanuatu was created.
THE NEW HEBRIDES BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY… The tribal culture was dominated by superstition and magic practices. Unwanted children were murdered. If a man died, his wife and dependent children would be strangled to death. Cannibalism was widespread with human flesh being considered a delicacy at tribal feasts. If enemies’ bodies were unavailable, children were murdered and eaten.
JOHN GEDDIE Born in Banff in Scotland in 1815. In 1816 his family emigrated and settled in Nova Scotia. He studied theology but his health failed and he faced having to give up the idea of Christian ministry. He vowed that if his health recovered he would commit himself to missionary work. Mr & Mrs Geddie became the first missionaries to be sent to the South Seas from the church in Prince Edward Island where he had become the pastor. In 1848 he landed on Aneityum.
One day Yakanui, a chief and sacred man, came to the missionary. Yakanui was a human monster, the greatest cannibal on the island. There were very few children left in his district, because he had killed and eaten so many of them. Many grown persons had also fallen under the impact of his murderous club. He was hated by the people, yet feared because of his ferocity and because they believed he possessed mysterious powers by which to bring ruin upon them. Attracted by the gospel of forgiving love, he came to the missionary, who tenderly pointed him to the Redeemer who is "able to save unto the uttermost”. Hundreds, then thousands, broke with heathenism and turned to Christ, and twenty-five churches were crowded with eager worshippers each Lord's Day.
A tablet was prepared for John Geddie and placed behind the pulpit where he had preached for 24 years. ‘In memory of John Geddie… When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872 there were no heathen.’
JOHN G. PATON During his youth Paton felt called by God to serve as a missionary. He trained in Glasgow working as a city missionary there. He was ordained by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1858. Paton married Mary Ann Robson and 2 weeks after the marriage they sailed from Scotland to the South Pacific. "Paro day 1-57 (8202276889)" by Doug Knuth from Woodstock, IL - Paro day 1-57Uploaded by AlbertHerring. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki /File:Paro_day_1- 57_(8202276889).jpg#mediaviewer/ File:Paro_day_1- 57_(8202276889).jpg
Mount Yasur is an active volcano on Tanna Island
JOHN G. PATON 3 months after their arrival a son, Peter, was born. 19 days later Paton’s wife, Mary, died and was followed shortly after by the baby. Paton remarried and returned with his new wife to Aniwa. Paton learned the language and patiently ministered to the people with little appearance of success. Enduring many years of deprivation, danger from the natives and disease they continued faithfully and after many years they saw the whole island population turn to Christ. In 1899 Paton saw his Aniwa New Testament printed and missionaries established on 25 of the 30 islands of Vanuatu.
PRAY FOR VANUATU The motto of Vanuatu is ‘In God we stand.’ Pray that this resolve may be a reality in the aftermath of the cyclone. Pray for rapid organisation and distribution of aid supplies. Pray for re-establishment of medical facilities. Pray that the almost overwhelming destruction may deepen a desire for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God. The whole Bible in Bislama (the only language that can be understood and spoken by the majority of the population) was published in 1998 after 30 years of work. Pray that God will honour this labour and establish his word in the hearts of believers.