Iaorana (Tahitian for “Hello”). This summer we will be visiting French Polynesia from June 18th to July 3rd, and we want to tell you about it and ask for your prayers.
French Polynesia is a far-flung collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean almost directly between Australia and South America. The most famous island in the country (and the island where we will be spending the majority of our time) is Tahiti, a name you might be familiar with! The population of French Polynesia is 283,077, which is incredibly small; for reference, the population of San Francisco is 884,363.
The world sees Tahiti, Moorea, Bora-Bora and other destinations in French Polynesia as an earthly paradise. Indeed, the mountains and waterfalls, the birds and tropical fish, the waves and the lagoons are so spectacular that no photo can do them justice. And it is possible that the people are the real treasure of the land, with their legendary hospitality. But beyond the resorts they are a people as broken by sin and broken down by the weight of this sinful world as any other people on earth. Although French Polynesia is predominantly Christian in name, and even 65% Protestant, very few are Bible believing Christians who are actively engaged in disciple-making. Because of this vacuum, there is an unusually high percentage of false religions and cults masquerading under the name of Christianity, and a great number of believers who are just not engaged in their faith.
Therefore, three significant needs exist for local Christians:
First, the need for understanding the clear grace Gospel focused on the necessity of faith alone in the person and work of Jesus. Tahitians need God’s redeeming love and the freedom that comes from believing in Christ’s sacrifice for sin and resurrection for victory over death. This was Paul’s deep desire when he wrote the epistle to the churches in Galatia (see Galatians 1:6-10), and it is the desire that we have for French Polynesia.
Second, we see a need for biblical discipleship to take place, so that our Tahitian brothers and sisters learn to live the Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit that is manifest in God’s perfect Word. From this will come the motivation to become disciple-makers themselves. (Ephesians 3:14-19, Matthew 28:18-20).
Third, we see a need for training pastors to go deeper into the Word through learning how to study the Bible by centering on inspiration, canonicity, and principles of interpretation. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Our team is composed of Mark and Rene’ Perkins, Turner, their son, Jules, a dear family friend, and Titus, an archaeologist friend who was a member of last year’s team. The five of us will be staying together in the town of Punaauia (Pu-na-vee-ah) on the island of Tahiti, where we will visit other exotic-sounding places like Papeete, Teahupoo, and Tautira, and serve the indigenous peoples there in whatever way God leads. Our philosophy of missionary work is simply this: empower the local church to do what it is already doing. We do not see ourselves as the heroes of the church or spiritual giants who will save the island. Rather, God is already doing a work in the people of French Polynesia; we are humbly here to participate in what He is up to.
While we are in Tahiti, we will be sharing the Gospel side by side with Tahitian believers on beaches and in neighborhoods and even with the homeless in downtown Papeete, the capital. We will also be leading and mentoring Bible studies in homes, and teaching and preaching in churches. Furthermore, we will be prayerfully seeking guidance to meet more and more Tahitians who long for God’s Word and are eager to make more disciples in His Name. We hope not just to help the people of French Polynesia grow, but to strengthen our bonds with them.
So, please pray: 1) that our ministry in French Polynesia is fruitful, and that we do it by the Lord’s grace and not our own power; 2) that we establish and grow strong relationships there; 3) that the Lord prepares us spiritually, mentally, and physically for our service; 4) for good health and smooth travel there and back; 5) that the Holy Spirit works powerfully in Tahitian believers; and 6) that the Lord would keep unity among the team for our time overseas. Thank you all for your prayers; it is a crucial element of any ministry or missionary endeavor.