You have undoubtedly heard about Cyclone Pam, a Category 5 monster that ripped through the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, leaving destruction in its wake. Vanuatu is a tiny archipelago made up of 86-plus islands and populated by some 220,000 Melanesians speaking 105 different languages.
While the region sustained considerable damage, the island of Tanna endured a direct hit and was devastated. Their medical infrastructure was crushed and needs to be repaired; smashed homes need to be rebuilt; and destroyed gardens need to be replanted. Of course, all this will take time, money, and manpower.
Meanwhile the people are bewildered, trying to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Vanuatu needs God to comfort the hurting and give them the strong support they need – to sustain them physically and spiritually during this difficult time after the storm.
I ask for your prayers for spiritual sustenance on a very personal level. I worked as a Wycliffe Bible translator on southeast Tanna for 12 years. My family and I helped facilitate a complete New Testament translation into Nafe, one of seven languages spoken on the island. We were present for both the print and audio dedication that took place in 2014.
Even in the face of this cyclone, I can report to you that there are things to be excited about on Tanna Island. This last January they celebrated the completion of yet another New Testament that was published in both print and audio! That brings the total available New Testaments in Tannese languages to four. Two of these languages are available in audio through FCBH and on our Digital Bible Platform, while we continue to work with partners to process the other two.
As you know, in times of crisis we become more aware of our own frailty and spiritual need. Please pray that God’s Word – now available in the heart language of these people – will provide comfort and hope during this tragedy.
Image 1: The island of Tanna prior to Cyclone Pam.
Image 2: A Southeastern Tannese girl in traditional dress.
Image 3: The dedication ceremony for the Whitesands New Testament in January.