In November, Vanuatu Mission Field hosted the Pacific Leaders Forum, with representatives from PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Australia, and of course Vanuatu, in attendance. The Pacific Regional Secretary, Br Rolly Dumaguit was also present for the meetings, which discussed the needs of the Pacific Mission Fields, including a proposal for the establishment of a Pacific Union.
Another very special occasion took place during that trip – the dedication of the newly completed church building in Port Vila. There was great rejoicing amongst the many members and visitors as this chapel was set apart as a beacon of light for the truth. Thank you to all those who participated in making this project a reality. A few days later the little chapel on the island of Malekula was also dedicated.
Some history as related by Brother Benjamin Thiel at the dedication of the Port Vila Church
“Today we are here from various walks of life, to witness a joyful scene—the dedication of this house of worship in Port Vila. Though we all originate from different islands and countries, we all realise we have one common problem—sin—and one common solution—Jesus. While we realise the importance of the Law of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ we realise the only hope of being forgiven and being able to become law abiding citizens of heaven is through the mercy and grace that heaven offers. The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement was established in 1925 by people who appreciated that by God’s grace His Law is to be obeyed no matter how hard the situation. This movement was established by a people who realised that we can stand by God’s grace not only in the sunshine but also in the storm.
“Today is not just a time of rejoicing but also a time for reflection. How have we come to this place? How did it all start? As a church we are a movement driving forward but let us take a few moments to look in the rear-vision mirror.
“During the year 2000 two church members from Queensland, Australia, Terry and Violet Barnett, came to Vanuatu on holiday. They spent the Sabbath in fellowship with a group of Advent believers in Sorovanga. They also assisted funding a new class room for the school. On their return to Australia they shared their experience with Danny and Suzi Boje, church members from Victoria, Australia. One year later Danny and Suzi visited Vanuatu and went to find this school and spend the Sabbath with the believers there. When they asked the believers if they would like to hear more about the Reform Movement and its message they were met with on overwhelming positive response. Due to this strong interest it was decided to send two ministers from Australia on an initial visit to follow up on the contact that had been made. John Ciric and Michael Stoyko visited Port Vila during 2001 running some meetings and answering questions of the interests in Sarovonga School. Due to the interest shown in the truth, it was decided to continue to further establish the work in Vanuatu. Michael Stoyko was to make another visit and I was to meet and assist him in Vanuatu after I had attended the Youth Convention in Fiji in 2002. While in Fiji the brethren there gave me further contacts they had in Vanuatu to follow up. The next few weeks were spent in constant visitation and missionary work. Then, as interest in our message grew, we presented each night in different locations.
“One night after I presented a study on the 2300 Days and the Reform Movement in History and Prophecy in Blacksands school, Willy John, who sadly is not with us today, came to me and said, ‘Thank God for this message, there is a man in Malekula who is preaching this same message – he is a reformer.’ I knew we didn’t have any reform members in Malekula at the time but said, ‘Brother, if he is preaching this message I would like to meet him, how can we get in contact?’
“Contact was eventually arranged via the radio and we went to visit, first landing in Santo to visit friends then coming by cargo ship, which we understood would be faster than flying and driving around the island. After a very long night on the ship and many stops in various villages, we asked the captain when we would arrive at our destination. After being told there was no definite time of arrival and that it was not certain that the ship would go there at all, we requested to be dropped off at the next village. So by accident, or rather Gods hand of providence, we landed early in the morning on the beach in Achin (the very village where our little church is established today and which will be dedicated next week).
“After meeting the locals and handing out some literature we continued by truck to the village where we met Br Bembi Mogoro and his family. They eagerly grasped hold of the truth – Br Bembi is here as our minister today. How did he learn about our message? Around the year 1998 a sister in Uranquinty Church in NSW gave “The Good Way” series to a visitor from Vanuatu (a relative of Br Bembi’s). Eventually Br Bembi saw this series of studies and borrowed them and read them till the pages were worn. Before leaving Br Bembi’s village by truck his last request to us was, ‘Please brethren can you get another copy of the Good Way series for me? This one is worn out and I need to give it back to my cousin brother!’ How important the printed page is in spreading the Good news of the Gospel!
“Brother Glenn and Sr Rosemary Clements, from New South Wales, Australia, came to Vanuatu in 2004 and invested their time and money to establish a day school here. Their efforts in establishing the school have been a great blessing and support in housing the church and forwarding the work here in this country. They were also active in helping in the process of purchasing the land and raising this church building.
“Over the years the mission field has continued to grow and missionaries and lay members from Vanuatu and abroad have supported the work here in many different ways.
“A special General Conference Sabbath School offering was collected to help fund this building. With the generous offerings from Brethren in all parts of the world this house of worship has been raised and is free from debts. Through the Australasian Union Conference Welfare Department, Br John Lausevic and many of the youth from Australia combined their physical efforts with the local workers here in Vanuatu to raise this lighthouse for the Lord in this town.
“As a movement we believe organisation is of great importance but let us remember organisation does not create life. It is needed where there is life. Church buildings are a result of churches – people who love truth and want to be bound together by that truth and share that truth with others. Today it gives us great joy to see many of the founding members, the ones who took a stand back in 2002 when the Reform Movement was Organized here, still loving the truth and driving it forward. It also gives us much happiness to see the fruit of these labours. Many new faces are here who also love this truth and are preparing and looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Looking forward we can only encourage you all that no matter what happens, no matter what trials or difficulties come your way, don’t lose sight of Jesus. Remember what you have learned and press forward. Let this building stand as a testimony of what Jesus has done in this country; what Jesus has done for you in your heart and your experience.
“Whose work was all this? It is God’s from beginning to end. Who had a part in it? Whether by your presence, your words, your efforts, your sweat, your offerings or your prayers you have—we all have. Sadly many who have assisted to make this building a reality couldn’t be here today. But they remain in your memories and their deeds are written in heaven. We thank you all for what you have done to make this day possible, to make this building a reality. All praise be to God and may this light house be a means to lead many to the Lord!
“Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
“Isaiah 42:10 ‘Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.’
“Isaiah 42:11 ‘Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.’
“Isaiah 42:12 ‘Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.’”