As I reflect on the year past, I am so thankful for the servants of God I’ve met or re-met on eleven trips to the nations of Oceania. While there are still challenges and much work to be done, I am encouraged by the progress on many fronts. Standouts include the relationships between nations forged at the Oceania Conference in August, EE-experienced, well qualified Board members being elected who are transforming direction in two nations, and a marked increase in EE training, particularly with implementation right across the region. I am impressed by the calibre of our Board Chairman and the vital part they play in direction and negotiation through staff issues.
In early November, I visited Vanuatu and once again enjoyed being with such friendly, gentle and hospitable people. One can walk around Port Vila and feeling welcome and safe. Every now and then, I read the biography of a pioneer missionary and just now, it is of John G. Paton, a Scottish missionary, who with his nineteen year old wife, went to Vanuatu (the New Hebrides as it was then) in 1858. Most of his predecessors, including John Williams, had been massacred and some eaten. It was described to be ‘a dark land’. By the time Paton left, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, had transformed the majority of the people so he could write of the island of Aniwa, “Aniwa was to be the land wherein my past toil and patience and faith were to see their fruit ripening at length. I claimed Aiwa for Jesus, and by the grace of God Aniwa now worships at the Saviour’s feet.” We must never forget that only Jesus can transform the life of a person and a nation. This conviction drives us on in EE!
What motivates pioneer missionaries who were, and still are willing to risk their lives and families in the cause of the gospel? Clearly it was the absolute belief that without Jesus all people are lost. Hudson Taylor was compelled to go to China, telling his listeners at a meeting about the “great Niagara of souls passing into the dark in China”. Are we too comfortable in our churches forgetting the destiny of the lost?
At Christmas we have a special, annual opportunity to ask a person, “Why do you think Jesus came into the world?” That can lead right into what the Saviour himself said, “For the Son of Man came to seek the and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). We’re also reminded that, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8b) May God bless you and your families as you celebrate Christmas and enjoy a holiday – but please don’t take a break from sharing the Good News of Jesus!
Yours joyfully in His Christmas harvest,
Anne Bowie – VP Oceania