When the day of the outreach arrived, the team set out at 6 a.m. They trekked for six long hours, climbing rocky terrain and crossing one long tortuous river a total of 32 times before reaching the village of Tubarua.
Every Home Fiji partnered with churches in the Naitasiri province to reach its 96 villages. Tubarua is located in this province and known for its isolation. This village was last on the list as it was the most challenging and farthest to reach.
The outreach team consisted of a pastor from the area along with one of his elders, and a number of EHC workers and volunteers, the youngest of whom was Apenisa, a 13-year old boy.
When they arrived at Tubarua, they went first to meet the headman who was surprised to see them and asked why they had come. They told him about the Gospel of Christ and of God’s far-reaching love for every person on earth. The headman replied, “So, you have walked six hours, crossing our main river 32 times to give us this Gospel? I have never seen such passion. I guess you must value others very much and consider our village to be something special to come all this way to tell us about Jesus.”
With the headman’s permission, they visited every home and dwelling in the village, presented the gospel of salvation and prayed with many. The visit concluded with the village headman treating them to a special Fijian feast and thanking them for coming!
One worker from this outreach later said, “This was an experience to behold. It taught me the value of a human soul and that no one should be missed. Everyone should have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. No one must be left behind. This will require going to where each person lives.”
Ministry in the Pacific region meets with extraordinary obstacles that are unique to the geography and population in the region. One report from Papua New Guinea (PNG) read, “It took almost three months to reach every home in one district alone because most of the villages are so remote. They are separated by steep mountains and fast-flowing rivers.”
Another team described the rejection that often comes from mindsets so engrained against the Gospel. In spite of this, they continue approaching people with the Good News of Jesus and making their way through jungles while often dealing with lack of food and accommodations.
However, the fruit of such devoted labourers far outweighs the challenges. In just one recent outreach in PNG, EHC workers and volunteers personally visited 4,974 homes in the Lalibu Pangia district, and connected with nearly 8,000 people. During the outreach days, they were able to pray with 134 people who wanted to receive Christ as Lord as soon as they heard the message. They also witnessed the healing of 208 people. In Fiji, EHC workers have had opportunities to give gospel presentations to students in seven local schools in one province alone. They also personally visited 78,412 homes, leaving a gospel message at each dwelling and followed-up 4,871 responses.
These outreaches are just a glimpse of the work being done in the Pacific region.
Taking the gospel message to people in this vast area represents unique challenges. The Solomon Islands, as an example, consists of six major islands but has an astonishing 7,900 smaller islands or atolls (an atoll is a ring-shaped reef or chain of islands formed of coral). It is estimated that some 1,000 of these islands or atolls have inhabitants. Indonesia has 13,466 islands, of which 4,000 or more are said to have inhabitants.
Because of the remoteness of so many inhabited islands, it sometimes means boarding fishing boats that go to certain islands only a few times a year. Workers have to stay on an island and find accommodation until the next boat arrives.
Regardless of the great difficulties present, EHC workers are prayerfully moving forward, determined to bring the gospel of salvation to every home and every heart.
The dedication of our brothers and sisters serving in the Pacific region is truly inspiring. They look to the Lord for a way forward and pray for open hearts with very little concern for the sacrifices that must be made.
May the Lord bless their labours in His name with an abundant harvest of souls and renewed hearts, and may we remember them in prayer often. They are truly going where most of us will never go to take God’s glorious message to people that could easily be forgotten.