News from our Church's April Visit to Vanuatu

Moderator, the Rt Rev Andrew Norton and Global Mission Co-ordinator, the Rev Phil King are currently in Vanuatu meeting with representatives from the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV), offering pastoral support, and having discussions about how the Church can best help in the recovery efforts. Read these "Postcards from Vanuatu" to learn more about the situation in Vanuatu.

Postcard from Vanuatu: Proud to be Presbyterian

I am just letting you know that I'm bursting with pride about being part of the Presbyterian community.

Phil King (or in Vanuatu, King Phil) is doing an outstanding job. Phil knows people's names and asks about their families. Phil has established a wonderful working relationship with the PCV. The respect he has won is proving invaluable in this critical time of post-cyclone recovery.

Gloria and Neville Jones, two of our missionaries who had been in Vanuatu for a short time before the cyclone hit, have been active in the recovery effort. Neville is taking care of recovery logistics as part of the Disaster Relief Team. Neville is getting his head around the local Bislama language and is showing the very best of kiwi "can do" attitude and skill. Gloria is working in public health. I have just heard this afternoon that the Government has asked the PCV if they would take on a contract for delivery of services throughout the nation.

Don and Shirley Anton are based at Talua and are teaching at the Bible School. The Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu is vital for the recovery process of the nation. For this to happen training of pastors is essential.

Graeme and Maebry Reid have been working at Onesua College, but now have returned to Port Villa.

Graeme and Maebry are powerful witnesses to the presence of God. They have invaluable insights from the Christchurch earthquake and now their hearts have been opened wide to the people and children of Vanuatu.

This morning I heard of a very small act on our behalf, which has had a huge impact.

We sent $5,000 to start the process of re-roofing Onesua College. This gift and the speed with which it happened caught the attention of the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education which then led to a "please explain" meeting with the Prime Minister. The Church is leading the way.

In the first moments of the relief efforts, the PCV was the first to give to the Government funds to assist the relief!

The PCV has an annual "yumi kivim" (we give: you, me give) these funds are going to support local ministry so that the work of the gospel does not stop.

These are our people. This is the Presbyterian Church in action.

Proud to be Presbyterian.

Andrew Norton
Moderator - Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand


Postcard from Vanuatu: 22 April 2014

Those from Christchurch will know how the people of Vanuatu are feeling right now. Homes and livelihoods destroyed with the promise of three months assistance from the Government. The first wave of aid workers has just left, and now locals are having to get on with the task of rebuilding.

Phil King and I have just come back from two days on Tanna Island, one of the worst hit areas.

Giant Banyan trees have been uprooted, 50 percent of homes have either been destroyed or seriously damaged. Gardens - the only source of food for many - have been described as "rolled up and blown away by the wind".

"But thank God we are alive!"

The wind, however, is not the greatest disaster facing this country. Right now there is a very significant health crisis. One village we talked with told us of 50 people out of 200 who were sick due to poor quality water.

Everybody has their own story of the cyclone and to hear each story breaks your heart open a little more.

What can we do?

The next couple of days Phil and I are in meetings with the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu where we will be exploring a range of ways we can partner with the PCV over the coming months and years. We can not do everything, but we can do something and we are very confident that something will make a huge difference in many people's lives.

Our Church and the PCV have a long and proud history of working together. It is times like this that friends pull together and help one another.

At each meeting I have I tell of the love and prayers of the people of New Zealand and the response is always a very big smile!

I encourage you to continue your prayers and generosity towards the people of Vanuatu via the Moderator's appeal.

Phil and I will update you again soon.

Andrew Norton
Moderator - Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand