One Friday afternoon John Robin was walking along the beach on his island Hiu, in the north of Vanuatu. To his surprise, he saw a fish lying on the beach. It was strange, because the fish was alive and unhurt. Quickly, he picked it up and went to show it to his new friend, John Joseph, to see if he had seen anything like this.
John Joseph was new to the island—he was visiting and had no place to stay when Robin invited him into his home. Joseph told Robin that he was an Adventist from Hitraty Seventh-day Adventist Church at Melemat village, on Efate Island. Since Joseph had no relatives on Hiu, Robin treated him as his brother.
That Friday afternoon as the sun was setting Robin and his family gathered for worship. Their new friend Joseph had taught them wonderful messages from the Bible. That evening they learned more and that was how Robin and his family learned about the Sabbath.
Later that evening they saw a bright light shining inside Robin’s home. It was so bright. They were all scared.
“The light was bright like a Coleman Light (a common kerosene, gas or battery lantern brand),” Robin says. Robin walked into the house and was surprised to discover his old light was somehow working again. It had not been working for sometime. He picked it up and while he was looking at it, the light dimmed and went off.
He took the light outside to the group and they discovered the lamp had no battery. They tried to turn it on again but could not. Joseph then told Robin that this was a sign, a miracle.
Joseph stayed with Robin and his family for sometime and in 2014, Joseph took Robin to his family in Port Vila. They travelled by ship to the island of Santo and continued on by another ship to Port Vila. While in Port Vila, Joseph invited Robin to an evangelistic meeting held in a sports venue at Freshwota. A lot of people attended each night. They sat on the grass to listen to the international speaker. At the end of the meeting there was a big baptism. The candidates dressed in white clothes and followed a long line to the water ponds and were baptised.
Around 3000 people were standing for baptism. As Robin was watching, he felt that God was talking to him. He thought about his family, the fish he saw on the beach and the light that Friday evening. Robin decided to be baptised. Quietly, he walked from the group he and Joseph were sitting with to the baptism pond. Joseph did not notice when he left.
Robin cried while walking into the pond. The pastors noticed he was crying and asked where he was from. He told them he came from Hiu.
After the baptism Robin was standing with the baptismal candidates and that was when Joseph found out that he was baptised. He ran over and hugged him and cried.
After sometime in Port Vila, Robin went back to his island. Someone sent him 60 new Bibles. So he decided to give the Bibles to the people of the island. It was a new thing, to give out free new Bibles. There were other denominations so he asked permission to give out Bibles. While he was handing out Bibles inside one of the churches the chief sent his men to stop him. And so Robin walked out of the church with the rest of the Bibles and the chief told him to “Stop taking food from the garden” because Robin “disrespected” him by giving Bibles to people.
Robin and his wife and children struggled to find food elsewhere. At times they would go hungry. He would look for wild yams and wild fruits to feed his family. They had to clear new land and plant new gardens.
After a month a ship named Kawale came to the island. The crew came ashore with cargo. Robin was surprised when a crew member told him that he had 15 bags of rice on the ship. Robin took the rice bags home and together with his family they thanked God for providing them with food. To this day Robin still does not know who sent the bags of rice on that ship to them but his family had enough food until their new gardens were ready. Robin now looks after a church on Hiu Island.
Jean Pierre Niptik is head of media productions for Vanuatu Mission.