NEWSLETTER LATE MARCH AND APRIL 2016
Greetings from the islands! This month has again passed by very swiftly. Hosea mission work has also been moving forward quickly in the Philippines and the other Pacific islands. God has poured His blessings upon us as we have kept preaching the Gospel.
|Construction work lifting a beam
|Construction work is a time consuming process
The work in the Philippines
In April the Australian Hosea team will travel to the Philippines for a month. The purpose of this trip is once again to reach out to those parts of Mindoro Island where visitors normally never go, and also to visit and preach the Gospel on some nearby islands. The local people are already eagerly anticipating the meetings, as our previous visits have brought such good fruit. We have been told that it is particularly the young people who are looking forward to our visit as many of them had experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the first time during our previous trip.
The Hosea church in Cabacunga has continued reaching out to the native tribes. They began their ministry by giving out food, clothing and various other supplies until they had won the trust of the tribespeople, who finally understood that we are genuinely trying to help them. In the past many people have mistreated them, which has caused them to be suspicious of outsiders. They have been excluded from modern society and its social care, but the way has now been opened for evangelising these people.
In addition to food and clothes we have given much needed mosquito nets to the native tribespeople. The mountainous areas where they live, mostly outdoors, are very prone to malaria-spreading mosquitoes, so the nettings have been eagerly awaited. Cabacuga church members have also taught the natives basic skills such as personal and general hygiene. I am so happy to know that we have been able to supply these dear people with good quality clothing too. When I first visited some of them in their home village, their usual clothing was just a piece of old fabric hanging around their waists – hardly any protection from the cold or monsoon rain.
This has been again a new mission field opening for us. I believe that God’s favour has been upon us because we help the poorest of the poor that others ignore. This is work where no medals nor governmental aid is given but as Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (1:11): “…being filled with the fruits of righteousness that are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
News from Tonga and Fiji
Hurricane Winston caused considerable damage in the islands of Pacific Ocean. It first struck Vava’u island of Tonga, where one of our Hosea schools is located. In actual fact Winston struck twice — felling trees, pulling down buildings and blowing roofs off houses. As the storm was raging God’s protective hand hovered over our old building, which we had just renovated. Fortunately the repairs to the roof had just been completed before the storm came, and it withstood the winds. The school building had an old sail covering the roof, as it had started to leak due to its age. We were the only school that could open its doors almost immediately after the storm, and some pupils returned to school straight afterwards, firmly believing that the school building would still be standing. And it was!
Dorothy and the children have planted a vegetable plot next to the school on a piece of land that had been given to us to use for a time. Our intention is to grow some vegetables to sell and to support our school.
Hurricane Winston treated the Fiji islands even more violently, swooping down on them with wind speeds over 200mph. Fiji has two main islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu which has all the governmental buildings. In answer to prayer the storm changed course and the strongest winds moved off between the two main islands. Unfortunately the storm did cause severe damage on the smaller islands and the northern parts of Viti Levu, and it turned out to be the strongest storm ever to strike the islands of Fiji. It blew away whole villages and raised a small tsunami which caused significant destruction.
|Cyclone Winston strong winds felled a big tree
|Cyclone Winston another fallen tree
The women of Naveivei Wali village in Tailevu acted so heroically during the storm that I want to tell their story to encourage you and as an example for us. The perseverance and gallantry of these women saved dozens of villagers from the storm that destroyed their homes and also their church and newly built meeting hall.
There were five mums amongst these heroes. One of them carried a disabled 90 year old to safety and four other women who were nursing their newborn babies, also carried elderly people who were too weak to walk. There were only two men in the village, as all the young ones were working on the main island, and only women, children and the elderly were left in the village.
Mrs Vika Sabasaba didn’t let the hurricane slow her down as she carried an 86 year old to safety. Unfortunately the roof of the hall that was supposed to be their shelter was also lost in the fierce storm, so their only hope was the church building. However, even the church’s roof was damaged by the horrendous winds and the villagers trying to shelter there suffered under a massive downpour that must have felt like Niagara Falls. Wisely the ladies decided to crawl under the church floor, where there was just enough room to crouch.
The women pushed the elderly and weakest ones first under the cover of the floor Then, just when they all had managed to crawl in, they heard a loud crash and rumble as the walls of the church fell down and even part of the floor collapsed under the heavy weight. That left them hardly any room in their hiding place but happily they were still all alive. Mrs Sabasaba recounted that her back was so close to the edge of the building that the heavy winds and rain kept beating against her mercilessly. There just wasn’t enough room for all of them.
Another young mother, Sera Navolulai said that mothers wrapped their infants and small children in rugs and then lay on top of the children to protect them from the debris blown around by the cyclone.
The villagers had to stay there throughout the afternoon and evening until midnight, when the winds started to ease off and the worst of the storm was over. Afterwards the islands resembled a warzone with many houses, crops and possessions lost. The sum total of the damage has not yet been evaluated.
Our time on earth is unpredictable and short, just like Job 8:9 says: “...our days on earth are but a shadow”.
But our mission on earth is to glorify God by serving other people and by talking about him to others. God did not give us our talents to be selfish. Our purpose is to tell others about Jesus and about what the purpose of their lives can be.
2 Corinthians 4:15 says: “For all things that happen are for your sakes, so the grace, being multiplied through the many, would cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.”