MENU

The Story of Vanuatu

If it were not for the fact that the TV program Survivor featured the island nation of Vanuatu most Americans would never even have heard of the place. When I stepped off the plane onto the lush tropical island of Santos, I began to wonder if I had not made a mistake. I was told that malaria was prevalent, that drinking water was rain water, and electricity was not available out in the villages. So why was I in Vanuatu? The reason I was in this South Pacific nation highlights a quiet but growing aspect of Mission to the World’s ministry. It is the foundational importance of theological education in the task of church planting.

Consider the history of the Christian church in Vanuatu. Amazingly it is a Presbyterian Church birthed in the 19th century by Scottish Presbyterian missionary John G. Paton.

When Paton and his young wife first set foot on the island of Tanna in the year 1858, they were acutely aware that the natives he hoped to evangelize might eat them for supper. (Missionaries who had preceded him had in fact been devoured before sunset on the day of their arrival.) Paton wrote that, “His spirit, like leaven, was at work! A new lifestyle supplanted old hostilities. Thefts, quarrels, crimes, were settled now, not by club law but by fi ne or bonds or lash as agreed upon by chiefs and their people. Everything was rapidly and surely becoming 'new' under the influence of the leaven of Jesus. Huts and plantations were safe … heathen worship was gradually extinguished; and though no one was compelled to come to church, every person in Aniwa, without exception, became before long an avowed worshiper of Jehovah.”

Why then would Mission to the World begin mission work in Vanuatu in 2004? It would seem the work is done. But what the church in this land lacks is solid theological education. Since the days of Paton a great deal of liberalism has crept into the church as they have sent their ministers to Fiji for training. Even more alarming is the fact that cults are growing both within villages and even Christian churches. One island has many villagers who worship a mysterious World War II G.I. named John Frum. He is said to live within the island’s volcano, and will return some day with many “goodies.” There are even churches that have Mormon pastors.

I relate this story to you so you will be able to see how important theological education is to the planting of churches around the world. Reformed theology builds churches that are God-centered rather than man-centered, and covenantal theology grounds believers in the Scriptures so they are able to withstand the attacks of unbelief. This emphasis on sound theological education is a strength that the PCA brings to the mission world.

What does it gain us if we plant churches that are initially full, only to find them dwindle because the teaching is biblically weak and doctrine glorifies man rather than God?

Paul Kooistra, Christchurch New Zealand Vanuatu Mar 19, 2013
Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Create an Account
Sign Up for Free
Name
Email
Choose Password
Confirm Password

GET INVOLVED

Campus Ministry
Longer
Children's Ministry
Longer
Associate/Assistant Pastors
Longer

Conversations with a Contractor in a Post-Christian Culture

A contractor noticed religious books at a missionary's New Zealand home and wondered how Christianity could possibly be relevant today.

SEE MORE

The Ukraine Crisis Has Been an Opportunity for the Church to Act as One (VIDEO)

"Brothers and sisters, it was incredible. This is one of the strongest testimonies throughout this time. I have seen the Church act as one."

SEE MORE

Vasyl and Viktoria: Twice Displaced by War (VIDEO)

When war broke out in Ukraine, Vasyl and Viktoria fled west to Lviv, where they found not only a respite, but a new place to serve others.

SEE MORE

Pray for opportunities for missionaries in New Zealand to share the gospel clearly in a post-Christian culture where faith seems irrelevant to many.

Pray for Grace Church Christchurch in New Zealand, where more than 25 nationalities are represented on any given Sunday, as the leaders as church leaders seek to intergrate visitors.

Pray for discernment regarding how best to reach Christian leaders in the Pacific Islands and assist them in their understanding of the Christian faith. 

Pray that a church-planting movement ignite in the Dominican Republic. Over the years, God has given us the opportunity to teach and train both Dominican and Haitian church leaders and we have finally launched a team in the DR.

Give thanks to God for raising up a new team led by veteran missionaries. Pray the team will impact the culture of El Salvador by identifying and training leaders who have a vision to start churches in their communities. 

Pray for MTW's work in a part of eastern Norway considered to be the most secular region of the country. Pray as our missionaries and national partners seek seek to be salt and light, and to plant biblical, God-centered churches.

Pray the newly formed denomination, the Presbyterian Church in Poland, and the establishment of a new multicultural, biblical, Reformed church in Krakow. Poland is a new field for MTW, borne out of the crisis in Ukraine. 

Pray for God to call people in their retirement years to serve with MTW in some capacity, and for wisdom in their decision-making. 

Pray today for the MTW-RUF partnership in Bogota, Colombia, and for the development of MTW-RUF internships in other locations around the world.

Pray that God would use the crisis in Ukraine to draw many to himself, and that many new churches would ultimately be planted there.

SUBSCRIBE TO MTW ONLINE

Stories from the field straight to your inbox.