A year ago today, we arrived in French Polynesia with our 8 suitcases. The country was in full COVID lockdown. We had heard there were checkpoints manned by the National Police on the main route toward our (sight unseen) rental home, and we were not completely sure that we would be allowed passage. We drove by faith that night, and by the Lord’s grace we made it. We can certainly say the same about every day of our first year. We have gone from those disorienting early weeks and months, operating with the bare essentials and barely functional French and a tenuous set of allies, to growing confidence in the friends and ministries that the Lord has grown. We now have a solid local church where we participate on an almost daily basis, a regular Bible study group, and a child evangelism group that we regularly partner with. We continue with the Tahitian Bible project (more about that in a moment) and to develop ideas for education and ministry, like English clubs and Starlink satellite internet hubs on smaller islands. All in all we are very blessed!
Just some of the memories of our first year, in list form:
Operation Christmas Child – the national premiere event in Papara, Tahiti, and participation in many events to follow.
Our home church on Tahiti, Eglise Pane’ Ora in Papara. They are growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We love being a part of their weekly ministry.
Moorea Home Cell Group. This was the first group that we connected with in 2017, where Mark taught his first Bible lesson in the country. Just yesterday, we were there with them again and we had a blessed time.
Eglise Pleine Evangile, where we visited, labored, and taught early on in our year.
Visit to Rurutu, a peaceful time of fellowship and observation of the first Operation Christmas Child event on the island. Met the mayor and several people from the local Protestant Church.
Funerals. Our church is connected to a nearby funeral business. We end up doing 2 or 3 funerals a month and it’s a great opportunity to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. This week there was a funeral for a prominent citizen of our town that drew hundreds of people. They heard a clear Gospel multiple times.
Marriage Seminar in Papeete. A very fond memory of three days with 16 people, learning together what the Bible says about marriage. We became close to each other due in equal measure to laughter and serious conversation on the Scriptures.
The Papeete and Arue Home Cell Groups. These two groups are connected by our friend Amota and several key members who attend both sessions Wednesday and Friday nights. Their deep interest in Bible doctrine is a great encouragement every time we visit. I have a special recollection of our time together in the book of Haggai.
The Bible Translation Project. In February our dear friends Joseph and Elvire Aka stayed spent a vacation week with us. During that time we worked through our first draft of John’s Gospel and also the book of Galatians. What a blessed time of laughter, food, and close fellowship in God’s Word.
Visitors from the USA. Our daughter Alex, who visited us for our first ever Christmas away from home, My longtime friend Jack Bailey and his daughter Ella and father “Popsie” visited. We celebrated 50 years of friendship in grand style. Our god-daughter Nicole visited twice. We hiked, swam with whales and sharks, and enjoyed the usual time of laughter and fun together. Nicole is an invaluable resource in the realm of education. Rachel Musser and Amber Walker visited and came alongside for many ministry events during their time here. Their encouragement was an incredible blessing to us. We are already discussing a longer stay in the first part of next year. My sister Tami, a flight attendant for United Airlines, dropped in for a couple of days of fun. We got to share wonderful memories from our childhood and get up to date on family happenings.
Unexpected visitors. Clay and Beverly Miller are missionaries with the Navigators’ military outreach. In early August they were in a terrible ATV accident on Bora Bora and hospitalized for a few weeks. The situation was very serious with Clay, but he has pulled through and they are both now in physical therapy back in the states. We were blessed to get to know their son Nate and their niece Jessica Boyd. Jessica, a registered nurse, is praying about coming back to Tahiti for longer term ministry.
Gospel Coin Ministry. Almost every week we give out Tahitian language Gospel coins to those who are eager to use them in sharing the Gospel. We have given out hundreds this year, and plan on distributing all of the 20,000 coins that were minted thanks to a generous donor.
The beautiful land and sea. Tahiti and her beautiful isles are breathtaking in physical beauty. Moorea is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and I am grateful to God that we go there often to share His Word. The mountains and beaches, the fruits and flowers, and especially the awesome splendor of undersea creatures all testify to the glory of the Creator. It really is as beautiful as the photos. More beautiful, in fact.
The beautiful people. Yet much, much more beautiful than the land sea are the people of this country. We love them deeply: their history, their longing for freedom, their dignity in often trying circumstances, and particularly for their love of God and His Word. God has blessed us with many friends and partners in ministry.
Finally, we are eternally grateful for our supporters and churches back home. Your prayers, words of encouragement, and financial support have made our work possible. We are convinced that many times your prayers have made the difference in moving forward into new ministries and continuing in ones already established.
As Paul wrote, Philippians 1:3–6, “3 I give thanks to my God upon my every remembrance of you, 4 always in my every prayer for all of you, making the prayer with joy, 5 because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 convinced of this same thing, that the one who began a good work in you will finish it until the day of Christ Jesus,”
Truly the One who began a good work here will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ!
Serving the Chief Shepherd in French Polynesia,
Mark and Rene’ Perkins