In March, we asked for prayer for our members in Vanuatu who were impacted by tropical cyclone Pam. Here is an update from GCI Mission Developer Rod Matthews.
On March 13, tropical cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm (the highest rating), hit the island nation of Vanuatu. The government estimated that about 166,000 people were affected (about half the population) with perhaps 65,000 in need of temporary shelter. GCI has a couple of members in Port Vila, the capital, and a congregation on the island of Malekula.
Fijian pastor, Isei Colati, had already planned a trip to Vanuatu to help our members there celebrate Holy Week. The timing proved ideal so he could check on the members and provide encouragement and material assistance. In his report to me, Isei noted that his visit was “very inspiring and uplifting, especially when we realized that the members had been affected one way or another.”
Before he left Fiji, Isei purchased vegetable seeds for the members to plant “so that they can get some quick cash and have some help in their food supply, realizing that most of the crops would have been damaged or destroyed.” He also purchased medical supplies to assist in countering diseases that normally come after hurricanes. Isei reported that though damage to Port Vila was severe, our members were not badly affected.
Several of our members came together in the town of Rory where our church facility is located to help repair the building’s roof and do general cleanup (see picture at left). During that time they held a series of church services and Bible studies. At times, attendance reached 55 people. Isei reported that “their desire for biblical knowledge and answers to questions interrupted the repairs on the roof of the building!”
Every evening, the members prepared food for dinner and supper following Bible Study and distributed used clothing (brought from Fiji) to those in need. According to Isei, they “experienced the truth of Psalm 133: ‘How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.'”
During the trip Isei conducted the annual Lord’s Supper commemoration service and three baptisms (pictured at right).
Thanks to all who offered to go to Vanuatu to assist in rebuilding the homes of our members. I’m grateful to report that they are well cared for and outside assistance is not needed at this time.