On Sunday, November 22rd, the Joy Bible Institute 2015 graduation service was held at Evangel Temple. The church had been severely damaged by Cyclone Pam and was undergoing renovations right up until the night before. The pastor, church members and building contractor worked very hard to complete the inside sanctuary in time for our graduation.
Eight wonderful men and women made up the 2015 graduating class. They are from five different islands in Vanuatu. John Nampas from Santo was the class speaker. Rev. Dave Wood, newly arrived PAOC missionary from Canada and new pastor of the English-speaking International Church which meets at JBI was the graduation speaker.
We had a wonderful service. The church was packed with hundreds of friends and family members. And at the end of the afternoon, while the graduates were still in the receiving line, it began to rain! After months of drought, we have been praying for rain so we all soaked it up!
Please pray for our JBI graduates as they return to their home islands that they will be mightily used and please continue to pray for more rain to end our current drought in Vanuatu.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And THANK YOU to our New Zealand friends who blessed so many people with lovely clothes, shoes and linens!
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
The JBI banquet is always held the Friday night before graduation. It is a time when the JBI students and faculty along with family and friends gather to celebrate together the end of the school year. First and second year students plan the menu, decorate the venue and cook the meal as their gift to the graduates. The graduates graciously thank their teachers and sponsors with lovely gifts. There is laughter and tears as we begin to say our good-byes to men and women who have been with us for three years.
2013 Graduates cutting the cake (left to right):
(Photo above on left) The welcoming committee gave salusalu (flower leis) to the graduates, school faculty and board members. That was accompanied by a good dousing of baby powder on the head and neck…
(Photo on right) Servers: Deborah, Mrs. Faith Maimai and Nicole.
(Photo on left) Graduates filling their plates. (Above right) Students singing a farewell song.
(Above left) Pastor Kiel and Faith draped in new clothes, material, baskets and hat! All gifts of appreciation from the graduates. Every teacher and family were gifted like that. (Photo below left) Pastor Philip and Serah being dressed with new clothes and baskets.
And thank you to the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) for the free use of their tent.
On Sunday afternoon, November 24, 2013, we gathered at Evangel Temple to celebrate the graduation of six wonderful people. The church filled with family and friends until many were sitting outside on the lawn by the open windows. Everyone got excited when the graduates and students marched down the aisle and the special service began.
Rev. Maurice Nicholson, visiting lecturer was the main speaker. Student Body President John Iaruel spoke on behalf of the graduating class.
Students lining up to march in.
Gen. Supt. Rev. Youen Atnelo, (above) welcoming everyone.
JBI Principal J. Gary Ellison (left) and Class Speaker John Iaruel (right).
JBI Faculty: Rev. Philip Naias and Rev. Kiel Maimai (photos above).
Vaily graduating after three years of study (above left).
Pastors praying the grads (left) and Rev. Maurice Nicholson preaching (right).
Pastor Willie David Saul, who has been a great supporter of JBI through the years by sending and supporting many students, closed the service with prayer.
We were blessed to have Pastors Russell & Robyn Harbour, from Australia with us teaching second term at JBI. The Harbours served in Vanuatu for three years before returning to ministry in Australia in 2010. It was great to have them back on the team again for 3 months. The students thoroughly enjoyed the classes they taught. They traveled on the weekends speaking in many different churches and taught seminars.
The Assemblies of God Executive Committee are on campus for their bi-annual meeting this week. So we had a dedication prayer and ribbon cutting for the new married dorm followed by a nice dinner in the school cafeteria. The new building was complete except for the exterior paint. We are so grateful to all those who contributed to the completion of this project. It would never have been completed without the very generous donations from many missionary friends, including retired and short term. Thank you to everyone!