It all began in 2014 when a group of young people from Honiara went on an Ambassador hike in Solomon Islands. Ambassadors is the stage after Pathfinders Master Guide and is for youth ages 16 to 21. During their hike, they met a single mum living in a hovel with her children. They felt impressed to help her out and gave her their spare clothes and food.
After this encounter, the group decided to take the gospel to the jungle by hiking to remote places and delivering food, medicine, secondhand clothes and Bibles. Led by Spink Mahuta, youth leader at White River Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Brandon Teava, they began doing what they later termed as “jungle ministry” whenever they had a spare weekend.
Early Friday morning, they would get on public transport (the backs of three-tonne trucks) and get dropped off as far as possible. They then hiked as far as they could with their gear and spent Friday night sleeping in the jungle. On Sabbath, they would hike the rest of the way to a remote village and send in a local scout to visit the chief/head elder and ask for permission to enter the village. Once they had permission, they would enter, split into teams and give care packages to them.
The youth would spend time with the people, find out what they needed, pray with them and even study the Bible. They would then sleep Saturday night in the jungle.
On Sunday, they returned to the village and helped the people with whatever community service needs they had—from assisting widows to harvesting crops. When they finished their community service, they shared whatever leftover food they had with the village.
“The group keep their connections with the village. They make sure to return in the next few months and follow up on how they are doing,” says Clare Baldacchino, an Australian who found out about Jungle Ministry and wanted to bring awareness to their cause.
There was one village (Tamboko) where they weren’t welcomed at first. Spink’s “cousin-brother” Danny had been born with a heart condition and wasn’t as physically strong as the others. Although the scout had received permission for them to enter a particular village, they were chased out by a man with a bush knife who didn’t like them speaking about Sabbath. Upset because they hadn’t had the opportunity to meet many people yet, they went back to the jungle to sleep. As usual, they had no shelter or tents. Unfortunately, some time after they had reached home, Danny got sick and died as a result of sleeping in the wet jungle.
Two weeks after they had buried Danny, the youth felt convicted that they should return to that village and visit the man again. They fasted, prayed and returned.
To their dismay, the man was still unreceptive and unwilling to have them stay. He gave them permission to sleep there that evening but he warned them that they would have to leave first thing the next morning. The group felt dejected.
The next morning as they were packing up and getting ready to leave, the man came running to them and asked them to stay. He apologised profusely for his previous treatment of them.
“Clearly the Holy Spirit worked on him,” says Clare with a smile. The group now consider him a dear friend and he is eager to learn more about God’s Word.