• Vanuatuan Church leaders from various denominations attending the second meeting | Photo credit: Christians for Israel

Visit to Vanuatu – ‘Isles Afar Off’

Keith Buxton - 17 December 2019

Following my visit earlier this year to the Solomon Islands, it was a real delight to fly recently to the beautiful country of Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation made up of around 80 islands that stretch across 1,300km. Prior to independence from the UK and France in 1980, the archipelago was known as the New Hebrides. The 300,000 Melanesian people who live there are warm, friendly, and hospitable.

On 12 September, Trixie and I were invited to a meeting in the capital Port Vila of the Port Vila Ministers’ Fraternal, where we introduced ourselves and the ministry of Christians for Israel (C4I) to about a dozen pastors. How important it is for the message of Israel to reach Christians in these far-flung islands, in fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:10, “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’”

And so, I shared about the importance of standing with Israel and the Jewish people. I also talked about the planned tour next year to Israel with others from the Pacific Islands region, which has been designed to be affordable for Christians from these island nations and clearly interested those present.

It was intentionally a relationship-building time. Encouragingly, there was sufficient general interest from a number of those present to ask me to bring a one-hour teaching and video presentation a few days later.
We then had lunch with the Chairman of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC). This lunch meeting was valuable, as it enabled us to establish a clear acceptance of C4I by the VCC. It was important for key church leaders to learn about C4I and to see that we are a credible Christian ministry.

Pray that the foundations laid during this visit will prove to be fruitful and much blessed by God in the coming months.More

The Vanuatu Christian Council is a non-government organisation made up of seven member churches, plus the Bible Society and Scripture Union. I was interested in finding out that the Presbyterian Church is the largest Christian denomination in Vanuatu – one-third of the country’s population are Presbyterian, probably because it is the only denomination that established a theological seminary in Vanuatu and concentrated on educating the local people.

Church leaders from various denominations attended the second meeting (photo above). I gave the requested presentation, spoke about C41 and also more about the planned tour, and responded to a range of questions. This was followed by fellowship around a shared meal. The level of acceptance of C4I among the pastors that we met during our visit to Vanuatu was encouraging. It was good to talk specifically about the initial process for establishing a C4I presence in Vanuatu as a countrywide ministry under the auspices of the Vanuatu Christian Council, a step that would be consistent with the views of key leaders with whom I spoke.

Also encouraging is the expressed desire by these leaders for a follow-up visit. Do pray that the foundations laid during this visit will prove to be fruitful and much blessed by God in the coming months.

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