Imarap is a remote village located on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, not far from the Yasur volcano. The people live a traditional lifestyle, of which they are protective. A Church of Christ was established in the village just over two years ago.
The church came about when the Chief of Imarap was ill and spent time in Lenekal Hospital. While there, a friendship developed between the plumber, who was a Christian, and the Imarap Chief. Because of hearing the gospel, he opened his village to Christians and allowed the church to be established. Imarap is only accessible by four-wheel drive or a day’s walk from the closest church. Elders from Leneai Church visit weekly to deliver a service on Sunday, most often walking, as fuel is expensive.
In March 2015, Cyclone Pam destroyed the Imarap church, with the only thing to survive being a banner on the altar, which read: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).
This community in Imarap is new to Christianity and Christian living, so it is a challenge for them when faced with adversity to look to God to sustain them, to give them the strength so they will not grow weary. They have a hope that encourages them to trust in God and keep them from turning back to their old ways. Since the cyclone, and along with impacts from El Niño and the volcano, they have battled starvation due to crop failure, and have had to rebuild their village. With reports of deaths due to starvation, GMP provided emergency food aid. The community was appreciative of and humbled by the generosity of their brothers and sisters in Christ. I have had the privilege of twice visiting this community in the past year. I have seen Christ‘s work and the realisation by the Imarap community that they have not been forsaken in their time of need. I have seen God give them hope and strength in challenging times. They have come from being overwhelmed with hopelessness, to a hope and strength in God for the future.
GMP continues to support the Imarap community with emergency food aid as needed and are working with the community on safe water and food security projects. A team from Fernvale Community Church travelled to Imarap in June to further encourage and support the growth of this new church.
Vicki Marney, QLD Partnership Coordinator
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