28 April 2020
It is with great sadness that I write to you. Tropical Cyclone Harold has taken a great toll on the people of Vanuatu. Those on affected islands have lost homes, livelihoods and the means to sustain their families.
Category Five Cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu’s northern islands on Monday, 6 April. The damage was severe, including on islands where the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) is actively involved in ministry and where many of our congregations have supported projects over the years. These islands include the Banks, Santo, Ambrym, Malekula, Paama and Epi.
Talua Theological Training Institute is located on Santo. Our Church regularly has personnel on staff at Talua and we have responsibility for a staff house there, which fortunately survived the cyclone, but several other buildings were badly damaged. The adjacent Navota Farm and Tata School were also impacted, as was the Santo Bush Mission outreach which Global Mission has supported for many years and where Presbyterian teams have participated.
The PCV has sustained damage to churches, pastors’ homes, schools and other facilities in several islands. Many of these communities are remote and will take a long time to recover.
The PCV has mobilised their membership and is integrally involved in caring for affected communities through the distribution of emergency food packages throughout the country. This includes the island of Tanna, which has simultaneously been affected by ashfall from the Mt Yasur volcano which is destroying crops across a wide area on the island.
The cost of recovery will be beyond the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu’s capacity to manage alone and as one of their key partners, we will once again stand alongside and offer assistance.
I’m aware that many people in New Zealand are currently facing difficult economic constraints. However, several congregations and individuals with links to Vanuatu have already enquired about an appeal or have donated funds, which reveals the deep support for the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu embedded within our Church. Even in the light of our current economic circumstances, our members and congregations are reaching out in support.
Last year Ruth and I visited Vanuatu, together with the Rev Phil King, to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu held on Ambrym island. It was an exceptional and an incredible experience. The folks of Vanuatu are steeped in Presbyterianism, the biggest denomination by far of all the churches. We were welcomed and were treated like dear family members returned home. Christianity on Vanuatu is a major influence on her people. The mixture of many cultures and traditions - French, English, Samoan (LMS) - with the indigenous people, is bound together in the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour.
The Bible urges us to bear one another’s burdens. And so, we are inviting those of you who are able to support our cyclone recovery appeal for our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu.
This can be done by donating online to the PCANZ Global Mission account number: 02 0500 0086963 10 with the reference Cyclone Appeal. Cheques can be mailed to the PCANZ Assembly Office, PO Box 9049, Wellington 6141. If donating online, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a receipt.
Rt Rev Fakaofo Kaio
Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Images and Video
View and download images of the devastation in Vanuatu and watch Brian and Ally Mackay, who recently returned from mission with the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, speak about Cyclone Harold-affected Vanuatu. See updates and images from Vanuatu on the Global Mission Facebook