My lifelong friend Jack Bailey visited recently, accompanied by his 13 year old daughter Ella and 87 year old father Jack. Jack and I were celebrating 50 years of friendship with eating, island adventures, and fellowship. One night during their visit, we invited a Tahitian family of six over to share dinner, Terainui and Hana with their son (Teraimana) and three daughters (Grace, Tutaina, and Victoire). Their friend Vaite also came along. Jack and his family knew no French or Tahitian, while Terainui and his family knew only a little English. That may seem like a recipe for disaster, especially since my French is hardly masterful. But with a few icebreaker questions, the initial awkwardness soon melted away into smiles and laughter. After dinner, Teraimana broke out his guitar, and their dear family regaled us with several praise songs in Tahitian. How they raised the roof with their beautiful voices!! When they got up to leave, Terainui asked us to sing a hymn or two in English, so we Americans did our part in English. The night concluded with beaming faces. We are proposing to the same family to begin a weekly night of Bible study and fellowship. Please pray for this.
At the very heart of our reason for being here is to train pastors and teachers, deepening their understanding God’s Word so that they might bless their listeners. There is a great need here in the areas of Bible exegesis and exposition, and I pray that I can start with a small study group beyond the few that I am already mentoring one on one. I have sent invitations to several Tahitians this week. Please pray that the invitees will respond and participate, and that the group will grow as the participants begin to richen their Bible studies and give further growth to their own groups and churches.
One of the great challenges of any mission field is language. Tahiti is no different. Although French is sufficient for the urban and suburban side of the island, the further one travels from the capital of Papeete, the more Tahitian is spoken and the less French is understood. Although there are some resources for learning Tahitian with French as the base language, the resources are scarce for English. There is a mediocre online course, a very out-of-date book, and an ancient grammar or two. With no other recourse, I am building my own tools through Brainscape (see the screenshot below). With an eye to future missionaries, I am using an online platform that can be used by anyone for free. Create a free account at www.brainscape.com, and search for Tahitian. You will find my grammar and vocabulary flashcards.
Finally, another great need here is Bible study books. Tahitian pastors and teachers have NO resources in their own language, and on the French side the possibilities remain anemic. Imagine having only a poor Bible translation, no Bible dictionary, no concordance, and no commentaries. How can pastors disciple their congregations or hope to rightly divide the Word of Truth with such a poverty? I am working with Mary Odom at the Agathon Research Library to build a library for Evanelia that has both print and digital books. There are bookstores in Paris and Quebec City that can channel some print materials. I am also looking to acquire a handful of laptops that we can load the French versions of Logos and E-Sword onto, and perhaps other Bible software. Your donations to Evanelia Tahiti will help provide these resources.