First, some observations:
1. Hermeneutics here is of the Lego variety. You can build almost any object you want from a random collection of Legos. Believe me, just like that, people here do exactly the same with Bible study. In reality, almost everyone everywhere does the same, abandoning the literal, grammatical, historical method for a collection of passages that somehow comes out to the theological position they favor. They have a Bible in their language, and a cross reference tool, and off they go. It is worthwhile to note that we have seen this method operate here from all over the theological spectrum, even in the short time since our arrival. With a Lego set, if you add a picture of the intended object, and even step by step directions, the object will come out as intended by the Designer. So also with biblical theology. The directions for interpretation are right there in Scripture, and when you use them, it comes out right! Please pray that we are able to get this message across.
2. People are broken here like anywhere else. Perhaps it is the fantasy world of the resorts and the travel bureau brochures and internet ads that create such a high contrast to the brokenness and deepen the disappointment. The French word for disappointment is deception. That is just right. Pastors and leaders in Tahiti are especially under pressure according to the usual strategy of Satan, especially from within their families. The Gospel and biblical discipleship is the only real solution to the desperate needs of this tiny nation. Again, please pray for them and for their families.
3. God is at work here! One prayer ministry here has been praying for years for revival in this country, and it seems that a number of efforts are coalescing in God’s perfect timing to generate a wave of opportunity. Like they do in our own little surfing town, it is time to paddle like mad and ride what God is doing.
And as a result, some actions!
1. Operation Christmas Child has begun their effort to share the Gospel with every one of the 63000 children in French Polynesia through their giftbox ministry. Rene’ and I have been welcomed by them to help wherever they go in the islands and even introduce ourselves to the churches there and tell them about our own ministry. This is an incredible answer to prayer! Although we will have to choose wisely which islands to actually visit with our limited resources, we could not have imagined this happening in our first month on the island. For now, Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora are on the agenda. More will come as the evangelism effort goes elsewhere and we work out the time and logistics to join. Our local church in Papara will be the first church in the nation to launch neighborhood child evangelism and discipleship programs. Please pray that we are able pervade the streets, lanes, and valleys of our little town of 10,000 souls.
2. A couple of weeks ago, a local pastor from another island texted me and asked me to baptize someone for him here on Tahiti, and to begin early discipleship with him. Quite the privilege! My plan is to take him through Romans 1-8 at first, then transition to other books and study materials in due time. We believe he has the desire and gifting to be a teacher and leader some day. Pray for Teremoana during this tender early stage of his Christian journey. He has a lot of promise and he needs a lot of protection.
3. Another local pastor from here on the south side of Tahiti has several men in his congregation who teach and desire to learn more about how to study and teach the Bible (see above). We are beginning this study group on Thursday! The pastor and one other pastor desire to go more deeply into hermeneutics, and I am already meeting with them one on one. I have preached at one church and this coming Sunday, the 23rd, I will at the other. The conditions that I have set for these engagements is that we work together on the passages to be taught, and that we teach them together. That way it’s not just me preaching, but much better, teaching others how to teach. This is our missionary ethic, support the indigenous peoples as they conduct the Lord’s Great Commission in their country. Please pray that these pastors will increase in their joy of teaching as they employ newfound tools and methods.
4. We are currently discussing a daytime Bible study with friends from church. Pray for our wisdom as we listen to their needs.
5. Development of more formal educational endeavors is in the early stages. Since we are not allowed to perform any professional activities under our residence visas, we are restricted to work only as volunteers. If the Lord opens the way for university education, or starting a K-12, we will have to change to a more appropriate visa. For now we are simply discussing a few things. Again, pray for our wisdom in this!
6. Finally, we believe we are ready to host visiting friends and short term missionaries. Send a message regarding your interest and skill set, and we can began to interact about how you might fit here.
Serving the Chief Shepherd in French Polynesia.
Mark & Rene’ Perkins