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.

Joy Bible Institute 2014 graduation service was held on Sunday, 23 November, 2014 at Evangel Temple, Tebakor. Four men and one young lady graduated after three years of study. It was a wonderful service and commissioning of these new church workers.

2014 grads

We do not have many photos to share as our good camera broke 6 months ago and cannot be replaced here. We are hoping some friends with photos will share some with us.

From left to right: Louis Duvu Vira from Ambae Island, Simion Iati from Tanna Island, Nasak Joseph from Tanna Island, Donald Kalfred from Malekula Island and Nicole Moli from Maewo Island.

Nicole and LoriLouis Duvu was the student class speaker. The main graduation message was given by our missionary colleague, Bryan Webb, who works up north on the island of Santo.

All of these men are married and have gone back to their islands to pastor churches. Nicole is from the Church of Christ and she will be ordained by her church on December 24th. Pray for them all as they reach out to the lost and needy on their home islands.

I did not expect to start any new construction projects this late in the year but several things including the soon arrival of a new baby made this project a bit more urgent. So we launched into a partial renovation of the old teacher’s house today. It is late at night and I (Lori) just found some more termite mud in my hair. The work crew took out some ceiling panels this morning and found…yes, unfortunately, it was termites…so I was up on the ladder poking my head through some tight purlings to evaluate the sad condition of things.

Anyway, this lovely family, Kiel and Faith Maimai, have a sweet little boy Harry Joshua and he is soon to have a baby brother or sister. They have been living in a guest apartment for several years and need a regular house. We are happy to have a campus house for them, but it has not been lived in for about 4 years because it needs repair. Pastor Kiel is the JBI Dean of Students and full-time teacher.


The house has obviously been added on to over the years but nothing was ever quite finished. I’ll spare you the photos but we ripped out the only bathroom today. The house will also need to be rewired as the electrical wires were a real rat’s nest in the attic.

Would you please consider a gift towards the renovation of this campus house. We have about 5 weeks of work ahead of us and I need about $5000. The JBI campus project number is 5619. Thank you.

Dad Killingbeck and Gary on the site of our future married quarters!

Several of our married students leave their wives behind on distant islands for as long as nine months each year while they are in Bible school. The married quarters that we finished last year have enabled us to house three married couples. The studios have been a tremendous blessing, but we do not have enough room to accommodate all our married students. Last year we had 8 couples on a waiting list for 3 apartments available on campus. We can only expand our married housing by moving it off campus.

We have been looking for several years for a piece of land within a quick walk of JBI to build inexpensive married student studios on…we have found it!

Will you please help us?

US$25,000 will purchase this flat 1/3 acre lot which is a mile from the JBI campus. Click the link below to give to this project. Thank you!

Project 5619 – Land

On Monday, May 19, the small eight passenger Islander plane took off from Bauerfield airport on Efate, carrying myself and Robyn Harbour. Our destination was Epi Island about 30 minutes away. We headed north at just under 2000 feet altitude over the central islands of Vanuatu. The day was sunny but evidence of prior bad weather was still apparent in the choppy waves below and the windy conditions. We were happy our flight was cleared for takeoff as the airports on the two islands nearest to Epi were closed due to flooded grass airstrips from the recent heavy rainstorms.


An Islander is a noisy little plane so conversation was not easy but words were not needed as we watched small emerald green islands, mostly steep volcanic cones, rising out of the blue ocean under us. Before long the plane was banking to land on a very short grass runway in the old coconut plantation of Valesdir, Epi. Looking out the small window we saw one pickup truck and a smiling Pastor Graham waiting for us.

Robyn and I had not planned to go to Epi together. But 10 days earlier when I emailed her about my trip, she phoned me immediately asking if I would like her to accompany me. Robyn and her husband taught at JBI for three years but have been living back home in Australia for several years now. Robyn is a teacher and passionate about kids and Vanuatu. I was very excited for her to accompany me and share the three-day Sunday school teachers training workshop. Robyn had just flown in the day before from Melbourne, Australia.

Bongovio children

Within a couple of minutes of landing we were loaded in the pickup and driving through the plantation. The road was a rutted track which frequently went through dense vegetation. Under the tangled vines along the side of the road we could see bananas, cocoa pods, and many other edible crops. The abundance of food was amazing as the villages were small and sporadic. Often our driver would stop and shift the vehicle into 4 wheel drive before we plunged through a river, down a steep ravine or through muddy wetlands. The airstrip and this road can be closed after heavy rains and we were grateful that the rain had stopped and road was passable. Otherwise, we would not have been able to travel on this side of the island.

At every village, the truck would slow down in case someone needed a ride. Most of the passengers were coming to the Sunday School teachers workshop. Fresh produce came with each person as a contribution to the workshop meals. An hour and a half later, we started descending a narrow road which on one side hugged a stone cliff and on the other plunged straight down to the sea. We slowly drove down the slippery mud track and into the coastal village of Bongovio. This large village was where we would stay for the next five days.

Robyn & Lori

Our hosts, Pastor Sam and his wife, eagerly awaited our arrival. Some Sunday school teachers were already there and others would be arriving in the morning before the 8:30 a.m. session. It is winter in Vanuatu right now and temperatures have dropped considerably. The Milky Way is an amazing sight when gazing at it from an island with no electricity. We were very happy that night to be wrapped up in wool blankets in below 70F/20C temperatures!

At breakfast the next morning, many new faces appeared carrying bags and food. Participants had mostly walked in, some taking three hours to trek over slippery trails from seven kilometers away! Others had come by truck from the north side of the island. You know people are eager when they have walked since dawn to be there on time. I only saw three different vehicles the whole time we were on Epi.

I awoke Tuesday morning with a migraine headache and it only got worse over the next two days. I could barely read my notes but taught all my sessions. I was so grateful that Robyn was with me and we had planned to share the teaching load as I was unwell. I do not get migraines often, so I did not even think to bring medication. Many people prayed for me and though I felt rotten, Robyn said she would not have guessed it during my teaching sessions. I even preached at the church on Wednesday night. So thankful for His strength when I am weak.

Morning lecturesTeachers

At the first night service, they asked for anyone who wanted to share something about what they learned to come forward. Three people eagerly shared. The next night they limited it to three people but seven spoke, wept, and shared their past teaching failures, and renewed commitment to reaching the children in their villages. It was an empowering moment.

We had the most delicious meals thanks to a group of young men who came to cook while everyone else participated in the workshop. The first day a little black pig was brought to the kitchen and he was very tasty. Then some men went diving and speared several large turquoise parrot fish, which later appeared on our plates fried to perfection.

Workshop participants

We had just a wonderful time. The twenty-seven teachers who went through the three-day training came from seven of the eight Assemblies of God churches on the island. They represented 173 children. We laughed, cried, sang funny songs and explored ways to find visual aids outside in the garden.

The last day we gave two morning lectures, had a question and answer session, followed by closing speeches, presentations and lunch. Robyn also squeezed in an additional practice session on clever paper-cutting visuals.

Robyn session

After lunch, the participants packed and started the long trek home. One group would walk north and then some of them would take canoes to the nearby island of Lamen. The other group walked south.

Robyn and I had time to debrief and evaluate the overall workshop with the organizing pastors. We enjoyed sitting on the beach looking at the distant island of Malekula to the west and the twin active volcanoes on the island of Ambrym to the north. Robyn also discovered the right spot to stand on the beach for mobile phone service.

That night as the sun set and the cool air descended, we were happy to go sit by the open cooking fires in the kitchen and chat with the ladies. The workshop was over so the young men had vacated the kitchen and we were now free to visit with the remaining ladies.

Bongovio BayBongovio Bay

Friday, our departure day, happened to also be the bi-monthly market day. Our truck taxi driver was booked to carry produce and vendors north to Rovo Bay market but would come back to take us south to the airport in the late morning. Our check-in time was 2 p.m. for the 4:30 p.m. flight to Port Vila. The truck arrived as we were about to sit down for an early lunch so the food was quickly packed up. Our hosts climbed in the back, and away we all bounced to the airport.

Taxi to airport

Once at the airport, we were weighed and our bags weighed for check-in, Pastor Sam’s wife, opened her bundle and served up a hot meal. The taxi driver joined us for lunch but he was anxious to get back on the road as his market group would need a ride home, and it would be a couple of hours before he would reach them. So we said our goodbyes and our hosts got back in the truck for the long ride home.

Sitting in the airport chatting with other passengers, we learned that the grass airstrip was only half-mowed as the lawn mower was broken. A spare part was expected from Port Vila the following week to repair it. In the meantime, a healthy group of cows was grazing and mooing contentedly on the airstrip. Every once in a while someone would glance out and check if they were still there. Once the flight was expected, several people ran out and made sure all the cows had been chased back through the broken barbwire fence and the airfield was secure for a landing. Our plane left a half hour early as all seven passengers were waiting. We boarded the same plane that had brought us five days earlier and enjoyed the views on the way home as much as before though we flew at about 5000 feet altitude this time.

Valesdir airport, Epi Island

Our conversation centered on planning our next teacher’s training together. I am certainly looking forward to it!

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Cyclone Pam Rebuild Vanuatu AOG

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