A few miles out of town, you turn off the main road and head up a track made only for 4wheel drive vehicles to get to Green Hill, Upper Teouma. The road is deeply rutted, flooded, muddy, and a challenge to the best of drivers! The trip takes about 45 minutes if you do not get bogged down along the way.

IMG_0434Until Cyclone Pam, I confess I had never been there, I was always told that our car could not make it. (It most definitely would not!) I knew there were several Assemblies of God churches in the upper hills of Teouma and would see the pastors and their wives at various gatherings in town.

In April, the newly formed National AG Disaster Committee, hired a Landcruiser and driver and headed out for a damage assessment trip to Teouma. We had already done assessments of easier to reach churches and communities.

A month after the cyclone, the long grasses had grown but the trees were still mostly stripped of leaves, branches broken, and many completely uprooted. Teouma is a market gardening community, nestled high in the hills. The cyclone whipped over these high plateaus ferociously, ripping crops out of the ground and blowing away every building in some settlements. It was a sobering drive.

Our first stop was to Pastor Charley Job in Green Hill. Every building in their area blew away except his small cement block house. Their house had safely sheltered all the nearest neighbors during the storm. After the cyclone, they stepped out of their house to find their primary school gone, the church building gone, and the nearby church’s widows house also gone. The winds were so violent that almost nothing of the school was found within walking distance. They recovered only enough to rebuild a shed to store relief and donated school supplies in.

Pastor and Mrs. Charley Job Green Hill Primary School

Green Hill Primary School had just reopened for classes the morning of our visit. Not all the children were back in school but the principal and teachers were doing their best under teach. Salvaged wood and donated plastic tarps were the new classrooms. Children sat mostly on the grass, as very few desks and chairs survived the cyclone. Normally 120 children attended this school.

Teacher at the blackboard Temporary classrooms

I can tell you that I promised them that day to write letters and find someone to help them rebuild. Many damaged schools in town had not even begun to reopen when this school, which had lost everything, was back in session.

Pastor and Mrs. John YalsiFrom Green Hill we came back down to visit Pastor and Mrs. John Yalsi of Red Ground, Teouma. Their farming settlement is perched high on a cliff overlooking the Teouma River Valley. It is a beautiful spot but was completely devastated by the cyclone. Everything was destroyed including their church. Even the cement walls crumbled. The church members climbed down the high cliff to recuperate metal roofing sheets and things for their houses. In the photo above, the pastor and his wife are standing in front of the ruins of their church. When we stopped to see them, they were busy in their gardens replanting crops to take to market in Port Vila. Until they had crops to sell, they would have no income.

After a short visit, some words of encouragement and gifts of rice and meat, we continued on down the hill towards another Teouma church pastored by Pastor John Yalu.

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Pastor Yalu and his congregation, had used fallen coconut trees, bamboo, and blue plastic tarps to make the nicest temporary church I had seen. He was concerned that day because his wife had been away during the cyclone and was coming home to a house without a roof (photo on the right). We gathered with some of the church members and heard how God had protected them. Again after leaving some food, we continued on our way to visit other pastor and other destroyed church buildings.

The Assemblies of God had 30 church buildings completely destroyed and another 20 severely damaged by Cyclone Pam. Many pastors and their members lost their homes and their incomes. Thank you for praying and giving to help us rebuild churches in Vanuatu destroyed by this cyclone. If you haven’t yet given, we need your help. Please send all gifts to our AGWM account and label them for cyclone rebuilding.

JBI Boy's bathroom damageRoof repairs

Cyclone Pam took the roof off this building which houses the boy’s bathrooms, their laundry, and the school workshop. Colton and Karmen worked really hard to get the roof back on to give everyone some privacy. The plumbing and electrical wiring still needs to be fully repaired but we have come along way in a few months.

 Finishing roof repairsKarmen

Thank you to everyone who gave to help us get this building repaired!

Some of you have been following our rebuilding on fb and I apologize to those who look for news here because I have not been updating this site. I promise to do better! The hours have been insufficient to get everything done.

The JBI girl’s dorm is now repaired and the girls are enjoying their new home again! The whole roof was replaced, with new timber structure and metal roofing. Then we went inside and had to replace all the ceilings, electrical wiring, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. New low energy and LED lighting was chosen and this will make a big difference in the school utility bill. We found that wall studs inside standing walls and window frames had actually been snapped by the force of the winds and so most had to be replaced. Damaged and water-logged inside plasterboard walls were removed too. Everything was repainted. New curtains were sewn by a married student’s wife. We are waiting for the new kitchen cupboards to be delivered and then it will be finished. It already looks wonderful!Cyclone damaged girl's dorm Calo & Jeffery in repaired room








Above left is the BEFORE photo of girl’s kitchen and living area destroyed by the cyclone. That rusty metal roofing in the room doesn’t not even belong to this house.

Photo above right is the AFTER showing the same corner. Just missing the kitchen cupboards.

Bryan and Michael Tarps for the girl's dorm Don on the tall ladder

The JBI students were fabulous. They got up on broken roofs and nailed wood and waxed tarps in place (photos above). A big thank you to Steve & Helen Blake of Liberty for the Nations, for giving us rolls of waxed tarpaulins. The tarpaulins were donated by WCT of Australia and were so strong. Many campus roofs were covered in this WCT material for many months until funds came through to repair.

Calo and Colton Progress

Thank you to Colton Cravatt, MAPS Construction volunteer from the USA, He spent three months with us helping to repair several campus buildings. On May 30, I (Lori) fell and fractured my knee and Colton stepped up and kept things going. Thank you also to Calo and Jeffery, local workers who worked on the girl’s dorm giving it all the finishing touches needed. Also to John Betuel, an electrician who came on weekends and installed new wiring and fixtures.

Finally, thank you to Australia Christian Churches ACCIR, friends in Belgium and supporters in the United States, because of your financial gifts were able to repair the JBI girl’s dorm! THANK YOU!

On July 31, David and Carl arrived from Indianapolis, IN (USA) to spend two weeks on campus helping with post-cyclone repairs. They did a lot of different things from building rails for the administrative building porch, to laying cement blocks, demolition, and new framing on the damaged staff house. We are so thankful for their willingness to just come and help out wherever they were needed. Thank you also to Lakeview Church, Indianapolis, for their generous gift to rebuilding the JBI campus!

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We are hoping you will come again!

Rhonda, a dear friend in New Zealand, contacted me shortly after Cyclone Pam and wanted to know what she could send to help. I knew that rice and basic food was being distributed already so I asked for used clothes and bedding. So many people had all their belongings blown away in the cyclone that it seemed like used clothing would be helpful. She took up the challenge and mobilized friends and they collected, sorted, washed and packed lovely clothes for Vanuatu and in the end a whole 20ft container was shipped.

On Thursday, May 21, I got a message asking me to come the next morning and empty the container. I hired a truck and took along Jeremy, Pastor Kiel, and a handful of JBI students. It took us about 6 hours to unpack and take all the boxes to JBI to organize our distribution.

Opening #Vanuatustillsmiles

Since then we have delivered clothes to community groups and churches, who in turn have shared them with their members. I have met a lot of new friends and drove down unfamiliar roads while delivering clothes to needy communities. Everywhere people have been so grateful for the unexpected gift of clothes, shoes and bedding.

Vanwoods Seaside Erakor village

Fres Win Seven Star

Rentapao Bridge Teouma

I honestly never knew, how many boxes of clothes could be packed into a 20ft container. We piled a JBI classroom high with boxes and took truckloads of boxes to nine communities the first day. The room looked just as full afterwards! We have continued to deliver clothes and then asked others to come by and pickup boxes.

Beverly Hills Teouma Red Ground pickup

Jasmine and Jeremy have been a great help. Jasmine organized the boxes as they arrived to the JBI classroom. Jeremy helped empty the container and reload trucks. The JBI students generously worked during their school break and made deliveries. Thanks also to Floyd for lending his truck for deliveries in town.

Jeremy & the empty container Clothes depot

And THANK YOU to our New Zealand friends who blessed so many people with lovely clothes, shoes and linens!

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed towards repairing the JBI campus after Cyclone Pam. We were able to buy new metal roofing and timber, and order cyclone screws and brackets from Australia because of your donations.

Girl's dorm kitchen areaAs funds and building materials became available, we were able to gather a local work crew to start repairs on the urgently needed girl’s dorm. The girl students have stayed in several different places on campus in the last couple of months as their dorm was inhabitable. They are anxious to get back in their own rooms.

MAPS volunteer, Colton Cravatt, joined us on May 8, to help build. He is on his summer break from Ozark Bible Institute.

There was a lot of debris to clean out of the damaged upper floor of the girl’s dorm. Part of the kitchen and living room roof was totally blown away by the cyclone. The rusty metal roof sitting in the kitchen area did not even belong to that building or any other building on campus from what I can tell! (see photo above).

The blue kitchen cupboards are not salvageable, water damage has completely ruined the MDF. The solid wood countertops will be sanded down and re-varnished to use on the new cupboards which will be made locally.

Jerry Jacob and Colton CravattCleaning out damaged kitchen








New timber roof structure was added as the roof was replaced. Cyclone strapping, brackets, and special screws were used to insure this roof will withstand the next cyclone. As sections of the new roof were finished, the electrician ran new electrical cables. New ceilings were needed everywhere as the old drop ceiling panels were whipped to pieces. The new plywood ceiling is being completed this week and energy-saving LED lights will be installed. The electrical wiring and light fixtures had really needed updating so this is a real bonus.

Girl's sitting area electrician at work

Replacing the dorm roof

It is hard to believe that it is already 2 months since Cyclone Pam ravaged the central and southern islands of Vanuatu. I wish I could tell you that things are back to normal, but that is not the case. For many people rebuilding has not even started. Families are still in makeshift shelters or roofs still covered in tarps. It has only been in very recent days that fresh vegetable stalls are reopening. The produce is limited to a couple fast-growing crops like green beans and Bok Choy cabbage. But it is encouraging to see that the farmers are beginning to have a small income and we have a few vegetable options.

At JBI, about 3 weeks after the cyclone, we were able to get several sheets of iron roofing to fix a couple of roofs with minor damages. As the weeks progressed, building materials got harder to find and the waiting list for lumber and roofing materials got longer. Nails, screws and other basic supplies disappeared from the hardware shelves. Many of these things, we have had to specially order now.

While we waited, the open roofs allowed rain to continue to pour in and cause more damage. It was a frustrating time as we only had enough tarp to cover one building and three others were left open to the elements.

A big thank you to Steve and Helen Blake for giving us enough roof canvas material donated by an Australian company, Wax Converters Textiles WCT, to cover up our remaining damaged buildings.

Bruan and Michael stapling canvas  Chapel crew putting canvas over  damaged roof Canvas on girl's dorm

The JBI students have gone beyond the call of duty this term and worked so hard to cut up the fallen trees, cover campus roofs, relocate to smaller rooms, and distribute relief food.

Iron roof deliveryAfter a month of waiting, on May 9th, we received the roofing to fix the girl’s dorm and the guy’s bathroom/workshop building. The cyclone roofing screws arrived a couple days later so the work could begin. So a small crew has been busy taking the remaining roof of the girl’s dorm off, replacing broken rafters and purling before putting on the new roof. We are very happy to have some unexpected help from Colton Cravatt from the USA.

Thank you to those of you who have sent in special offerings to help us repair the damage. We have received about 25% of what we need to rebuild. If you would like to give towards rebuilding: please label your gift Project #5619 and send to our AGWM account.

A month after Cyclone Pam, food shortages continue to be everyday concerns for many people in Vanuatu.

For urban populations, most food is purchased as few urban dwellers have space for food gardens. The inhabitants of Port Vila and surrounding areas who need cash to purchase food are struggling. Money is being stretched in so many different ways. Houses have been damaged, roofs need to be replaced, clothes and other belongings blown away by the storm. There is not enough money to buy food from the supermarkets and replace everything else. Local neighborhood vegetable stands have not reopened as there isn’t local produce to sell.

The tourist trade stopped abruptly. Hotels and restaurants were closed and employees laid off. Thankfully, some establishments have continued to pay their staff. But taxi drivers and tour operators have felt the loss of income dramatically. A couple of cruise ships have called in to Port Vila in recent days and brought relief supplies as a gesture of goodwill but infrastructure in the southern part of the country is not ready to receive tourists yet.

Food from SantoRural populations in Vanuatu normally depend on their subsistence farming to feed their families and bring in cash. Rural populations do not have grocery stores in their villages. After the cyclone, families quickly cleaned gardens and replanted with any available seed. Some crops like yams were coming to harvest and they are being consumed. Places with yams have been granted a short reprieve. Then there will be a time of waiting before other crops are ready. A hungry time as it is often called.

Kumala packaged for distributionWe have been blessed to receive two shipments of fresh island food from the food gardens of Sanma Bible Training Center on the northern island of Santo. They were just outside of the path of the cyclone and did not get the damage many other islands experienced. Bryan and Renee Webb and the school staff have made such an effort to dig up root crops and send us 26 big bags of produce on the Vanuatu Ferry this past Thursday.

JBI students going to give out fresh food.

JBI students washed all the vegetables and repackaged them into family size bags. Today over a 100 bags were taken to needy families in Port Vila.

We are so grateful to those of you who have given funds for food, much of that through Convoy of Hope. As funds comes in, we will continue to give out food both in the urban and rural areas.


On Wednesday, April 8th, I (Lori) was asked to become the treasurer of the newly formed Vanuatu AOG Church National Disaster Committee which will serve as the official voice for fundraising and rebuilding.

Our task is to rebuild church facilities damaged or totally destroyed during the passage of Cyclone Pam (March 13-15, 2015) and to continue food distribution in specific areas of need.

We have met five times in the last 10 days in order to open a new bank account and compile information. We are handing all the incoming damage assessment reports and photos of church properties. The information has been put on computer and priority lists are now in place. We have a few Assemblies of God churches in outer islands which have not yet been visited and their buildings may also be damaged.

Full Gospel, N Tanna

This level of devastation in so many different places and islands by one cyclone, is unprecedented, I believe, in Vanuatu history. 188,000 people were directly affected by this cyclone, having lost homes, subsistence farms, and/or businesses. Our church members are among them.

Fifty-one Assemblies of God church buildings on four different islands have had damage assessments. 31 of 51 are totally destroyed. The remaining twenty churches suffered damage, mostly iron roofs and timbers blown away.

Pastor Hosea, Karimasanga

Pastor Hosea of Karimasanga, South Tanna, (pictured above) is standing in the doorway of their village church. Nothing is left of their building. He also lost his house and many belongings.

Will you please help us rebuild?

Will you please share our need with others who may also be able to help us?


girl's dorm - cyclone Pam

Joy Bible Institute was heavily damaged by Cyclone Pam. This is a photo of the girl’s dorm lounge and kitchen. The roof blew off and fell inside. Torrential rains poured in and flooded the whole house. The ground floor of this building is the school’s library which was in turn flooded. Water was ankle deep in the library after the storm. We do not know if any of the 3000 library books or furniture will be salvageable.

boy's laundry - cyclone Pam

The roof of the boy’s bathhouse, laundry and workshop was totally blown away.

girl's dorm - missing carport

This is a picture of the girl’s dorm (above) on the left and a pile of rubble on the right. That rubble used to be a very nice storage shed for tools and a carport where the girls hung their laundry. The windows are still boarded up as Cyclone Nathan on the Australian coast was forecast to possibly pass through Vanuatu this week.

admin flat - cyclone Pam

At the school’s administrative office and guestroom, two large trees fell on the building. On the front side, the roof is very damaged and a lot of water also went into the rooms. Visiting teacher, Maurice Nicholson and his son Ian, were sheltering here during the storm. We thank the Lord for protecting them.


Kiel's house -cyclone Pam

On the left is a picture of our Dean of Students house which we just finished renovating in December 2014. New electrical wiring and light fixtures were installed. The bathroom was gutted and redone, new kitchen cupboard added, paint and flooring.

Unfortunately, the cyclone took off the  front half of the roof and water soaked through the ceiling and it collapsed inward. Furniture was also ruined. Another section of the roof went off in the master bedroom.

Pastor Kiel and his wife had a daughter born just a few days before the cyclone hit. They were in this house with their two children and our female JBI students sheltering from the storm when the roof went off. As the high winds were thrashing things inside the house, they ran out through the night to another building for shelter. That is an extremely dangerous thing to do, as flying objects are what often kill people during cyclones. Again we thank God for his protection over them. We are so thankful that the baby was born just before the cyclone arrived as the maternity ward at the city hospital is now damaged and closed.

JBI Chapel - cyclone Pam

The porch roof on the Joy Memorial Chapel was ripped off also. The rest of the roof did not fly away though. Thank you to Michael who came and replaced the steel cables which hold the roof down to the ground a few months ago. Without the new cables, I think the whole roof would have come off.

The three newest concrete buildings to the campus; the classrooms, the married dorm, and the new mission house, all survived the storm. They have some water damage and some buckled roof ridging but all in all they held remarkably well in the face of winds of 320kmph. The students took refuge in one of the classrooms and another teacher and his family camped out in the other.

Old classroom - cyclone PamIn the photo to the left, you can see a tree branch which has pierced the siding of the old classroom building.


There is a lot of school equipment and furniture that has been damaged by the flooding. We do not have a list of everything which we will need to be replaced. We are so grateful to Tony for taking pictures of the damage for us. We are still in the USA and due to return to Vanuatu on March 28.

At this point, we estimate needing at least US$150,000 to begin to adequately replace the things we have mentioned in this article. Thank you for considering the needs of Joy Bible Institute.

For the immediate repair of Joy Bible Institute:

Checks can be sent to: Assemblies of God World Mission, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO. 65802.

Please designate any checks mailed to Assemblies of God World Mission for:

J. Gary Ellison, AGWM account #236425 – JBI project #5619

cylcone PAM color

Cyclone Pam was called a “monster” even before she began to ravage the islands of Vanuatu. This massive storm travelled down the length of the country bringing devastation from the island of Pentecost to Tanna in the far south.

Port Vila, the capital city, is located on the island of Efate. Port Vila is the most heavily populated place in the whole country of 63 islands. This is where Joy Bible Institute is located. The island of Efate took a direct hit from Pam. The subsequent devastation, with an estimated 85% of all houses severely damaged or totally lost, shows the power of 320kmph winds.

The capital city is a mass of debris: roofing materials scatter the roads, power lines are down, huge trees are uprooted, house floors sit exposed to the wind, and even concrete walls have been pushed over by the fierce winds.

People who already lived on meager resources are now left destitute. The country’s infrastructure has also been crippled: mobile phone towers buckled, satellite dishes broken, schools sit roofless, government buildings battered, and the main hospital eerily broken and empty.

The great efforts to bring basic services and development to the island nation of Vanuatu over the years have been wiped away with one powerful cyclone. The full impact of Pam, the loss of human life, and the scale of the disaster will only come to light in the weeks to come as the ships take to calmer seas, the small planes land on grass runways, the mobile phones begin to ring, and news comes from all the remote villages and islands still silently suffering.

Please pray and give to assist the wonderful people of Vanuatu.

-Lori Ellison

Just had a wonderful weekend at CCC Midland, Michigan. We received an offering of $10,000 towards the first married JBI student house. It was an overwhelmingly generous gift, an amount we are not used to receiving. We are excited and I can hardly wait to start building.

Phase 1 of the project will include 4 small houses which we estimate to cost $15,000 each. We have been approved to raise $60,000 (4 houses). We now have enough for one house!

married dorm housing

To the left is a preliminary floor plan of the house, small living room, 2 bedrooms and a private bath.

There is no kitchen as we will eventually build a community kitchen and dining hall.

1. Why do we need to provide this kind of housing?

Vanuatu is an island country and our Bible school students are usually from outer islands. Married students have to leave their wife and children on another island while they come and study.

Our students have few resources. They cannot afford to bring their families to town and rent a house.

We would love for them to bring their families but our current campus only has 3 studios for married couples.

You can imagine the difficulties this family separation can bring. Besides, we want to train wives to be partners with their husbands in ministry.

Will you partner with us also? Any amount will help us greatly towards building the next student house.

Send all checks to: Project # 5764, Assemblies of God World Mission, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO. 65802.

Click here to give online.

JBI is so blessed to now own not one lot, but two house lots to build married student housing on. We presented this need to you in August. A big THANK YOU to Randy Hurst and my father Ron Killingbeck for contacting friends and raising the funds for this.

Beverley Hills land

Before the end of the school term in November the property was all paid for. Together with JBI staff and students, we were able to go and look over the land and discuss our future vision of small family cottages on the property. The location is no more than a 10 minute walk to the main JBI campus so it is ideal! We are so thankful for the unexpected opportunity to purchase land in such a great location.

We are currently discussing the types of buildings needed to adequately accommodate families. Thank you for praying with us and considering how you may help us further develop this land.

LivingroomRenovations have continued to progress on the old staff house. It has given us a few surprises and a few extra expenses along the way.

At this point, I am happy to say it is almost finished, though we are about $1000 over budget.

An electrician rewired and installed new recessed LED lights and switches.Bathroom The bathroom was torn out, opened up and tiled. All new bathroom fixtures were installed too. Extra kitchen cupboards have been built. Now we are at the painting stage. The inside has already been done and the outside will be done this week. Everything should be completed in time for Christmas.

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Cyclone Pam Rebuild Vanuatu AOG

October 2015
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