“At first, when Covid-19 struck, I thought it meant the suspension of Langham Preaching in the South Pacific”, writes Stephen Williams, Langham Preaching‘s Regional Coordinator for the South Pacific.
“In a sense I was right: all training cancelled; a ‘line-up’ meeting in Tonga postponed and, in Australia, the second training of Aboriginal preachers stopped. It would be a matter of keeping in touch and praying.
“Very soon, however, I was proved wrong. The first indication was a message from Ann Karie in Vanuatu saying she had conducted two training courses, more were in prospect, and her preaching club was meeting weekly.
“Also in Vanuatu, Joel Atwood has taken advantage of lockdown to gather and re-write our Bislama courses and has run training using the new material.
“Other good news from Vanuatu, is that Talua College on the Island of Santo, badly damaged in a cyclone eighteen months ago, is re-opening in a few weeks. The Principal, Philip Baniuri, has all his students doing Langham preacher training.
“In the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Pastors Willie Toito and Jonathan Inapelo continue to meet with preachers who have begun training, while in the Solomon Islands the next step is being planned as a fresh opportunity has opened with the South Seas Evangelical Church through Pastor Andrew Faniasa.
Online training impossible for most
“However, Suva (Fiji) was always the best chance and now it is starting. The motivation has come from churches and groups not involved in our present training. Tukana Nakesu, chair of the Fiji Langham committee, has given them a ‘Taste of Langham’ introduction and now is anxious that our training be completed and local trainers trained. God willing, we are doing it online over a number of weeks with Andy Shudall facilitating it from New Zealand.
“With the easing of restrictions in Australia, training is resuming with a course for preachers in remote country areas meeting at Ardlethan in southern NSW in August and a second for Aboriginal preachers gathering at Wyee in October.
So Covid-19 has brought blessing
“People have stepped up and found they can train others. More churches are seeing the value of Langham training and are looking for locally trained trainers to train them. Under God, this is helping to create a true ‘preaching movement’.
“Of course, we want the travel ban to end and for us to meet again. I think of our most remote work – in the Banks and Torres Islands in the far north of Vanuatu with Bishop Paterson Worek anxious for all his clergy to be trained. We long to begin in Tonga.
No shortage of churches
“What there is a shortage of is good, biblical preaching by people who will expound the Bible ‘faithfully, clearly and relevantly’. More and more Christians recognise this. It is this that motivated Aboriginal pastor, Rick Manton and his wife Kayleen (among many others) to secure Langham training for their preachers.
“Thank you for praying for this work. Perhaps you would remember specifically those named in this article. Thank you too for those who show interest in God’s people in the South Pacific. It is a great encouragement. And thank you to those who give financially. God bless and enrich you!”