Our Vanuatu Missionaries over the years have worked in three areas – (1) in Port Vila, which is the capital of Vanuatu, on the island of Efate, (2) amongst the Big Nambas people, on the island of Malekula, and (3) in and around the village of Louanunupu (near Lenakel), on the island of Tanna.
Our Church in Vanuatu is known as the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Vanuatu (PRCV).
The PRC mission work in Vanuatu was established in the early 1970’s, when two men (Greg Fox and Luke Zylstra), and their families were sent by the PRCA as Missionaries to North West Malekula. Their task was to learn the language, to preach the Word, to establish an indigenous church and to translate the Scriptures into the local language (Big Nambas). God has been very gracious in growing the church in Brenwei, North West Malekula – today there are more than 60 members, 4 local Elders and 3 Deacons, and their Pastor is Kenny Sep’et.
In 1983, the PRC commenced an outreach to the island of Tanna. The first Missionary, Kilet Itei came from the church in Malekula. Tragically, he died three years later, but Tom Kaut of Tanna continued the work of caring for the church. Several other men from Malekula have assisted Tom in his work over the years, and an Australian (PRC) Missionary (Tim Zylstra) and his family also lived and worked with him for nine years preaching God’s Word and translating the Bible into the local language. The congregation in Tanna has a stable membership and the translation work continues, with support from the returned Australian former Missionary who is fluent in the language.
The PRC has also had a long history in Port Vila. In the late 1970’s the church sought to establish a church on the Island of Ifira (off the coast of Port Vila) but Island politics prevented this; instead we were allowed to live, worship and translate on the island of Iririki, a short boat ride away from Ifira. A handful of Australian Missionaries were based on Iririki and sought to establish a church there, but with limited success. An encouragement was the completion of the Ifira New Testament, however, there was a limited response to the gospel from the Ifira people and in the mid 1990’s the work on Iririki ceased.
A new church plant in Port Vila was established in 2010, but this time on the Efate mainland, in the area of Freswota 5. This was at the request of the Vanuatu PRC, who saw a desperate need for a local church in the capital, whose population had ballooned due to urban drift and the lack of services, employment and schooling in the outer islands. This was, and continues to be a joint work between the PRCV and the PRCA. To date, two Australian Missionaries (Ken Zylstra and Andrew Fox) have lived and worked in Freswota 5 with their families alongside local Missionary-Elders from the Malekula church. The work is continuing, with people being brought to Christ through His Word.
The first Missionary family returned to Australia in 2013, and the second family has also returned (in 2017). We have since sought the Lord regarding the future of the Freswota 5 congregation, in particular. We have been praying that God would raise up either another local Elder, or provide another Missionary to go and continue the work there, alongside the ni-Vanuatu members and office-bearers.
We have been partnering with our sister Church in New Zealand, the Reformed Church of New Zealand (RCNZ), in an effort to further this cause. We now wait upon our Lord to see what His answer will be.
In the meantime, Andrew Fox is employed (full-time) by the Church as a Bible Translator. As the New Testament in the Big Nambas language has already been translated, printed, and distributed, he is working on the Old Testament. There is much to be done, but we give thanks to God for the progress thus far!