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In 2009, when we printed the Gospel of John in Bislama, we immediately began seeking permission to print a new edition of the New Testament in Bislama. Neither one had been available for many years, though Bislama is the language of choice for the majority of rural people in Vanuatu. This project has been a series of unforeseen obstacles and unexpected delays. There have been days when I have wondered if I would ever see these Scriptures in my hand!
You can imagine my excitement when this photo arrived today showing the container finally being packed in Asia with the new edition of the New Testament in Bislama! 5000 copies are for us! The container was shipped on February 21 and is on its way. Thank you LFTL partners because you provided the funds for these New Testaments to be printed! Can hardly wait for them to arrive…will keep you posted!
Just recently had two “new” tracts printed in the Bislama language. I say “new” because they were written many years ago by my father and I recently updated the language and had them reprinted. Bislama is the trade language of Vanuatu, where we have 115 languages on 83 islands! People are always eager to read something in Bislama.
Thank you to Light For The Lost (LFTL) for paying for the printing!
I thought I would share with you the “behind the scene” story of how our most recent literature project was birthed.
On April 2nd, our National WM President, Sister Wati, was sharing with me her burden for the women she visits in her travels. She has such a heart to help other women grow in faith. After several cancelled attempts, the very first National WM Conference of the Assemblies of God was going to be held in Port Vila in May. She had heard that the women from many surrounding islands and provinces were excited and arranging boat travel to the conference. Reports were coming in of groups of 30, 50 and even 80 women being organized from islands and churches around the country to attend the conference.
The next morning was a Sunday and I awoke with a very firm conviction that I should prepare a book in Bislama dealing with some of the issues Sister Wati had shared with me and that it should be handed out at the 1st National WM conference starting on May 15. Now if you know me, you know that I am not a morning person and I do not wake up quite so focused!
As I was getting ready for church that morning, I kept wondering how I would ever find the time to translate or write such a book in a month! I teach at the Bible school, homeschool my kids, oversee campus renovation projects and was already feeling tired and overcommitted. After Sunday school that morning, Jasmine was sick and running a high fever so she came home and I stayed with her while Gary and Jeremy went back to church. I realized that “time” had just been handed to me so I hit my files and started looking at articles for book ideas. Next I started unpacking boxes of books on women’s issues looking for something to get me started. Within an hour I had a book in hand, “A Wife After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George and started working. I ended up working at the computer for 15 hours that day and whenever I could during the next three weeks. 108 hours of computer work and a few headaches later, I had a 48 page booklet ready for the printer.
Of course, you cannot use someone else’s words without permission so I also began the process of requesting permission from Harvest House Publishers to excerpt and translate into Bislama parts of the first 5 chapters of Elizabeth George’s book. For a reasonable fee, they gave me permission for one print run with a maximum of 3,000 copies. I was quite relieved when the print contract was signed and mailed back to the publisher as I had already spent many hours working on the Bislama text.
I was working on such a tight deadline, that I finished the book and started proof reading it the weekend before the Monday the printer was expecting to receive it. As you know, the person who writes or translates such a long document needs to have at least one other set of eyes to correct it. Renee Webb, our missionary colleague up north, willingly proofed the whole booklet the night before I gave it to the printer and this gave me great peace of mind.
Now none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t had US$4000.00 of Light For The Lost (LFTL) funds already on hand. The local printer crunched the numbers trying to get me as many copies of the booklet as he could within my budget (and the dropping value of the US dollar didn’t help). The paper for the cover kept pushing me over my budget, until he finally said, “I think I have some paper on hand for the cover which you can have for free if you like it.” The paper had been sent to him by mistake for another job and was sitting on a shelf. So we went back into the print shop and he showed me a bright glossy lemon yellow card stock, not quite what I had envisioned but very good quality paper, free of charge and just the quantity needed! With the cover paper donated I was able to order 2000 copies of the book! The printer had 14 days to produce the books for us in time to hand them out during the conference! When I gave an afternoon lecture on marriage at the conference on Tuesday, May 17th almost 1000 books were handed out to the ladies but that is another story!!
I want to thank my family for putting up with all my extra computer hours during the month of April and much thanks also to Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to excerpt and translate the book, Renee Webb for proofreading, Mr. Michel Pioger, the owner of the Imprimerie de Port Vila (IPV) printers for the free cover page and great print job and all the wonderful LFTL partners who gave in 2010 so we could print one of the first Christian living books just for women in the Bislama language!
For several months I having been working on print agreements, editorial proofs, photo shoots and answering innumerable emails and now the Gospel of John booklet has finally been printed in the Bislama language!
Since the four Gospels were translated into Bislama in 1971, it appears that this is the first time the Gospel of John has been available as a separate booklet. I do not have the words to express how I felt today when I received the first copies of “Gud Nius blong Jisas Kraes we Jon i Raetem” or as we would say in English, “The Good News of Jesus Christ that John Wrote”.
My partner in this project wrote a note inside one booklet saying,
“Who would ever think we would ever see the end of this project! I feel so amazingly blessed to have been a part of what God has done. I am reminded that when God’s Word goes out it doesn’t return void. As we have seen God work in this project let us also believe in prayer for the ground to be ready for the seeds to grow and bring forth fruit.”
Thank you to those of you who generously support “Light For The Lost.” We received $5000 for this project. I have shared with you in the past our concern about new converts not having the Scriptures in a language they can easily understand. The Bible is available in Bislama but at a discounted price of $22.00 per Bible, it is obviously not something we can hand out frequently. The new Gospel of John is a 48 page, glossy paper booklet (5 3/4 in. x 8 1/4in.) with a full color cover. This Gospel of John costs 35 cents a piece and we have 14,200 copies to give away!
I started this project alone and many have joined me to make this idea a reality. Thank you especially to Michael and my new friends at the Bible Society of the South Pacific offices both in Fiji and Australia who helped in so many ways!
In a few days these booklets will be arriving by ship in Vanuatu from the printer. Please pray that things will go smoothly and they will be released from customs quickly. Pray that as they are distributed people will understand that only Jesus can say, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Sunday morning phone calls do not always bring good news. This Sunday morning, Pastor Mendor was standing high on a hill in the middle bush on the large island of Espiritu Santo with a cell phone and had good news to share. He was so excited because today a man from an influential family in an unreached village was going to be baptized! This is an unreached village that Pastor Mendor has trekked by while evangelizing other places but this particular village had remained closed to him. What is hard to imagine is that this village among others in the dense jungle of Santo has resisted the Gospel of Christ not because of traditional animistic beliefs (which they still adhere to) but because a Baha’i believer had previously been there and “claimed” them.
How can I share with you Pastor Mendor’s passion to reach the people in remote villages on Espiritu Santo? How his heart breaks when he hears that villagers who have never had an adequate presentation of the Gospel of Christ fall prey to foreign cults. He asked us to share this testimony with the JBI students and challenge them to take the Gospel to the hard unreached places of Vanuatu. He said, “While Christians stay in the easy coastline areas, foreign cults are going inland and claiming villagers by business contracts and development projects. They are doing this right under our noses.”
Last year Pastor Mendor and Terry, a young Christian man, were trekking by this village when they were stopped by a torrential rainstorm. They were given shelter and Pastor Mendor took advantage of this opportunity to share the message of Christ with his host family. They listened but the head of the family said that they had already agreed to follow Bahá’u’lláh. But the Holy Spirit was working in hearts and one man asked Pastor Mendor to pray for him. Pastor Mendor promised to stop by again in a few months on his next trip.
Today, that same man, Philip, is being baptized in this village as a testimony to his claiming Christ as his personal Savior. Someone had claimed Philip for another prophet but Philip experienced Christ in his life after Pastor Mendor’s visit and has made his own decision.
Pastor Mendor asked me if I could send 10 Bislama Bibles and writing notebooks for the literacy class he is giving to help the villagers read the Bislama Bible. He is not interested in “claiming” people but rather in making disciples who will follow Christ and understand God’s Word. Please pray for Pastor Mendor and others as they trek through the bush taking the Gospel to the isolated places.
Thank you also for supporting LFTL literature projects. We are currently in the final editorial stages before we print 20,000 copies of the Gospel of John in Bislama. A Bislama Bible costs US$22.00 but the Gospel of John will cost about 60 cents and will be more readily available to men like Pastor Mendor who are taking the Gospel to those who have not yet heard.
We have been packaging and shipping boxes of the new outreach magazines, tracts and Sunday school materials to the outer islands. From where we are located on the central island of Efate, the ships are headed either to islands north or south of us. Inter-island shipping is by no means a tightly scheduled affair, ships come and go, ships don’t come and don’t go, ships are on time and most are repeatedly delayed! The ship which took the boxes that Jeremy is seen carrying, stayed an extra 6 days in dock before leaving! Though it can be a challenge sending church supplies to the outer islands, our outer island pastors are grateful for any literature and church supplies which come their way.
Thank you for supporting LFTL and helping us to produce and distribute literature to the many islands of Vanuatu!
Friday morning the airlines called to say my shipment had arrived. That was good news! We have been waiting for our latest issue of Famille Heureuse (French for “Happy Family”) magazine to arrive from the printer in New Caledonia. After strenuous weeks of editorial work is it always a wonderful feeling to see the magazine printed and being handed out.
Four thousand copies of this free evangelism magazine have already been distributed in New Caledonia, the rest will be distributed in Vanuatu, Wallis and Tahiti. This latest issue deals with building strong marriage relationships, finding grace when things are not perfect and hope when relationships have been torn apart by affairs. We know the subject is timely in our island cultures. I was delighted on my way into the grocery store today to see the magazine tucked into a women’s purse!
Please pray that God will use this issue to begin a healing process in the heart’s of those who read it and thank you for giving to LFTL (Light For The Lost) which generously supports this project.
We are not quite sure when the last Vanuatu Pentecostal Evangel was printed – the last one may date to before Independence 28 years ago, when it was called The New Hebridean Pentecostal Evangel, edited by my father.
Many months ago, our AG missionary colleague Bryan Webb expressed a desire to see this important outreach tool revived. Bryan and I worked together on the articles via email since the Webbs live 200 miles north of us on the island of Santo. Though the English title may fool you, this Evangel is entirely in Bislama, our national trade language. We hope to print two issues a year as funds permit.
On Friday the first copies of the Vanuatu Pentecostal Evangel came off the press and were already distributed in some churches this Sunday morning. Copies for the outer islands will have to wait for inter-island ships to take them to the many islands of Vanuatu. Pray as these magazines go out and touch hearts with the Gospel.
The last three months have been very busy with many extra hours each day spent in front of the computer, writing, editing, and designing new literature. I have completed another issue of Famille Heureuse, a Christian family magazine in French, a new Christian life outreach magazine in Bislama, and designed several new Gospel tracts in Bislama. At the same time funds were made available for us to order Sunday school curriculum from the Assemblies of God in the Philippines and English tracts from the US.
I have learned after seven years of producing Famille Heureuse magazine that during the editorial phase I need people praying because whatever can go wrong, will go wrong! Usually, it is perfectly fine equipment which stops working or starts doing crazy things but this latest FH issue brought some startling challenges! The night before the final magazine layouts were to be sent to the printers, the lady who had done the final layouts had her house hit by lightning! Her computer was zapped along with our finished magazine! Eventually, some pages were recovered from the hard disk but I had to completely redo the final editorial work! Her computer was melted beyond repair and thankfully her home insurance bought her a new one!
After all the hours and technical problems, the best part is just starting – the magazines are rolling off the press and the literature is arriving ready to be distributed! That is the wonderful thing about literature, it gets into the hands and homes of people I will never meet! And that is why I keep creating new magazines and tracts!