It is almost a month since we were in Ban Ban and we are preparing for another weekend there this weekend. I thought I’d share with you some of my feelings after the last weekend. It was a real mixed bag.
For me it was a very relaxing weekend. We were unable to stay in the village (they politely explained there was nowhere suitable for a white woman and her children) and were accommodated at the house of the director of health (also an elder in the church) in town. This limited the amount of time I could be in Ban Ban but meant the children and I had a refreshing break! I also really enjoyed sitting around chatting with the women on Saturday morning and afternoon at Ban-Ban. The children had a marvellous time playing with the village children and fossicking around on the beach, picking up all the broken coca-cola bottles that have washed up on the shore over the years at Million Dollar Point.
I came away disappointed with how the women’s bible study had gone. It was a study on Mark 15:33-39 that I had run a few weeks before at Talua and many of the women had found it helpful and encouraging. As Susan and Lignes had both been there, we thought we’d run this study, leading a part each. It drew heavily from many areas of the Old Testament in order to understand the meaning of the darkness, the forsaken Messiah and the torn curtain. While this had been quite powerful in one context, it (humanly speaking) was a disaster in another context. And this was the first reason the study didn’t go well; it was unsuitable. It went to so many different parts of the Old Testament when we were doing a study on the New Testament that the women were left confused, rather than enlightened! I had completely missed the target. The second reason, which is related to the first, was that the level of bible knowledge was extremely poor. When it became apparent that they didn’t know who David was, I realised that we were in trouble! These were not the un-evangelised, or the newly converted, but those who have been to church all their lives, the core of the women’s group, the ‘old faithfuls’. Thirdly, it was because as Susan and Lignes began to teach, they discovered they hadn’t understood it as well as they thought they had. They have since realised that to get better at teaching God’s word the first thing they need to do is know it better. A lesson we all need to learn.
I was encouraged by how hard Joel (Diploma One student) worked at his sermon. He had had exams right up until the Thursday but on the Friday and Saturday he worked solidly at understanding the passage and working out how to teach it well in the Vanuatu context and he did a good job.
I wept over the congregation that is like sheep without a shepherd. There is one pastor in Luganville who has oversight of over twelve geographically disparate congregations. This little church in BanBan would be lucky to see its pastor three times a year. It suffers greatly for this; divisions, immorality, complacency and dwindling numbers. I know that a pastor wouldn’t necessarily change all this but I think that there is a great need for godly, wise leaders who love God and know his word, whether they be pastors or elders or laymen.
God promises that as his word goes out it does not come back to him empty. Pray for us and the students that we would keep teaching God’s word and trust Him to work in His time. Pray that we would work for His glory and not ours. Pray that we would not compare our ‘results’ with those we hear form other students in other villages. Pray that we would work hard, and trust God. Pray that we would pray hard, and trust God.
We will be doing a short study this time; Romans 5:1-2.