Healing and Evangelism in Vanuatu
A week ago we got back into Fiji from Vanuatu. Unless you’re an Aussie or familiar with the South Pacific, Vanuatu is one of those countries you probably haven’t heard of. It’s a lush jungly sort of place where all the Aussies go for vacations… kind of like their own local Caribbean. They’ve got native tribes, volcanos, snorkeling and lots of tourists.
While we were there, we helped a church from New South Wales, Australia run a clinic on evangelism with a church just outside Port Vila, Vanuatu. Every day during the clinic, we go out and do on the job training (OJT) in the local village which just gives the people we’re training an opportunity to observe and apply what they’ve learned with real people. People in Vanuatu are very open to talking in general, not to mention things like religion. The islands are mostly Christian, but we find that most people who are Christians have very little idea of who Jesus is and what he’s about. Though most go to church, most of the people we come across have no assurance that when they die they’ll go to heaven.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
There was a point in my life when this fact became very real. Like most of us out there, I had no idea that you could be sure whether or not you belong to God. It’s awesome to see people turn to Jesus and have him actually respond in the moment.
Anyway, to the healing stories. My favorite way to start a conversation about Jesus is to just introduce that person to Jesus. What do I mean? When people experience Jesus they’ll want to talk about him. Often this introduction takes place in the form of someone being healed by him.
On our first day out, we went to a medical clinic to see if there were any sick people we could pray for. The only person there was the nurse. After talking to him for a good 15 minutes, he decided he wanted to follow Jesus and prayed with us. Then he had to go attend to a patient, so we tagged along and ended up praying for 1 year old George who had a fever. The child stopped crying, and his forehead cooled down. Though the fever seemed to leave during prayer, we found out a day later when we visited the family in their home that the child wasn’t quite over it yet, but they gave us a box of sugar, flour and other things to say thank you to us for praying for George.
We ended up speaking to George’s grandparents. The grandfather had a knee that was in pretty severe pain due to a fall he had just a couple days before. He said the pain cut in half. We kept talking to them and spoke with them about Jesus for a while, then prayed with them to receive Jesus. This is my favorite part, George’s grandmother said she felt something like chains breaking inside her while we were praying, and had a sense of release. George’s grandfather mentioned that he had started drinking Kava (a narcotic drink made from a root that screws up a lot of lives in the islands), and decided he should quit. He came up with all of that without our help.
We came back a third time, still trying to really connect with George’s parents. We were able to speak with George’s mother, who also chose to follow Jesus after spending some time talking with us. It was so beautiful to see, because no one was pushing this on her, she really wanted Jesus for herself. I loves this stuff.