Though we were told to expect lots of surprises when we arrived in Vanuatu, something about the restaurant where we ate our first meal felt strangely familiar! That sign is not a bad summary of our experience here so far; many things are different, but some fundamentals never change. In Vanuatu, they drive on the right (pray for extra vigilance for us as pedestrians!), the minimum wage is around $2.00 an hour, and people you pass in the street actually say hello. Yet most people in Port Vila speak English, iPhones are everywhere, and despite flying three hours east, we’re still in the same time zone!
One thing that felt very similar to Sydney was the university ministry. We got to join in with the Christian Fellowship at the University of the South Pacific for their Friday night meeting. Twenty to thirty students meet together in a lecture hall to sing, pray, and hear the word of God; we instantly felt at home!
Luke preached from Luke 15, the parable of the two sons. He called on those ‘younger brothers’ who have rejected God for an empty way of life to turn back to their compassionate Father. He gave a stern warning to those ‘older brothers’ who live upright lives yet demand their dues from God rather than rejoicing with him.
After the service, we got to chat with people like Charlie. Like many other students at the university, Charlie is from the Solomon Islands (USP is split across different campuses in several nations, so anyone who wants to study law needs to come to Port Vila). He was raised by Christian parents, but by his own admission, he went on to live a ‘younger brother’ kind of life (Luke 15:13). Last year, he was invited to go away with the Christian Fellowship for a weekend camp. There, he heard the Bible taught, and he came to understand Jesus like he never had before. He still feels the peer-pressure to live a wild life, but that weekend he decided to follow Christ.
Even though some things will always be the same, we’re expecting to be confronted with many new situations in the next few days, especially when we fly to Epi Island on Monday. If you’d like to pray for us, please pray that God will help the team to be flexible and non-judgemental as we meet people who aren’t like us. And give thanks to God for the grace he has shown to Charlie and many like him through Christian Fellowship at USP!