Youth from the Potoroki church in Port Vila, Vanuatu, huddled on the floor of the ship’s meagre passengers’ quarters as the deafening 3m high waves came crashing down around them. The relentless wind whipped around the rusting railings of the ship, threatening to swallow anything lying loose. For nearly 48 hours 34 pairs of eyes struggled to rest as the boat navigated its 270 kilometre journey from Red Cliff on Ambae Island to the capital, Port Vila.
Amidst the wild conditions, there was a peace amongst the youth as they considered the incredible journey God had taken them on. What began nearly nine months earlier as a type of new year’s resolution had now come to fruition. The million vatu mission had been a success.
Something special happens when people serve together and are united by the same vision.
“The youth leader, Beverly Karae, and I were talking about how we could do more to help less fortunate communities in our own country,” said Anthea Arnhambat, a member of the group. “Beverly suggested we focus on Penama Adventist College (PAC) in Red Cliff—a school that is somewhat off the beaten track.”
With the inspiration to renovate PAC, provide its students with an improved learning environment, and create a deeper sense of service and mission in the lives of Potoroki youth, came the idea of raising one million vatu ($A10,700). “To some the idea was laughable,” Ms Karae said. “But despite our sometimes fleeting faith, God continued blessing our mission.”
More than 10 fundraising activities were conducted in eight months, with God’s leading experienced throughout. On one occasion a week of heavy tropical rain and wind threatened the first open-air fundraising concert. Prayer was the only hope. A special prayer session for divine intervention was held two days before the concert.
“It was a miracle,” Ms Arnhambat said. “When the day of the concert arrived there was not a single drop of rain. Afterwards one of the youth guys said it was the first time he had experienced the power of prayer.”
God also touched the hearts of friends and strangers to give generously so they could raise the money needed.
While the lead-up to the mission trip was exciting, the climax came when the youth reached their destination and ministered in the Red Cliff community.
“I saw young people identify skills they never knew they had and connect with community members, each other and God in a special way,” Ms Arnhambat said.
With help from community members, the youth renovated and refurbished the school rooms, provided teachers with an updated teaching syllabus, and ministered to and served others.
The trip not only brought a renewed energy and revived spirit to the isolated community of Red Cliff, but gave the youth a new passion for mission. “Something special happens when people serve together and are united by the same vision,” said Ms Arnhambat, who is inspired by the message of Philippians 4:13.
“I have confidence that God will give us the strength to serve Him again in whatever capacity He calls us.”
Sonja Larsen writes from Port Macquarie, NSW. She formerly lived in Vanuatu.