After such a wonderful first visit last June to Tahiti, serving with missionaries Mark and René Perkins, Rachel and I were invited to come and serve with them for a longer period of time. With Rachel and I both having a more open schedule this year, we were able to go and spend almost the whole month of February with them! It was so special to be able to revisit the island and to reunite and continue building relationships with people we had met last year! This year even brought the opportunity to serve together alongside those we met previously.
Interspersed throughout the 3 weeks Rachel and I were there, were numerous meetings with various individuals on the main island. One such encounter was with a young man our age who had started meeting with Mark on a regular basis. He desires to be an evangelist and wanted to learn more so that he could be more effective in his outreach. On another occasion, we met with a Christian couple who were helping Mark and René to plan a then upcoming ministry event with a women’s group from VMI – Village Ministries International. I have since read in reports that this event went well and was encouraging to a number of ladies on the island! On yet another occasion, we met with friends of the Perkins’ – a couple named Edualdo and Alene. They are heavily involved with the Operation Christmas Child evangelism and outreach program for the islands. We had the immense privilege to learn of plans for reaching ALL the islands of French Polynesia and to get every child a shoebox gift. We were then able to participate in a prayer meeting with them over these endeavors. Indeed, please be praying for these efforts and their success – that the gospel would be shared, heard, and believed!
In addition to these meetings with individuals, the other ministries that Rachel and I had opportunity to support were women’s and children’s groups the Perkins have started. Mark and René have launched some English clubs for local children. Their goal with the clubs is to teach English through the Bible. Rachel and I’s educational backgrounds are in elementary teaching as well as in teaching English as a second language. What a privilege it was to be included in these ministries and to lend whatever supports, tips, tricks, and strategies we could.
One really special testimony came from a boy named Ari. He shared that at school in his grade level they study English as a required class. He had good grades in all his classes except for English. However, after starting with the English club, his grades had begun to improve and he was grateful for the extra support this club provided!
During the weeks at English club we taught through some important stories in the Old Testament including when Moses was given the Ten Commandments, how God cared for His people even when they disobeyed Him, and how He sustained them even though at times they did not trust Him. These stories highlight God’s holy character as well as His mercy, lovingkindness, and grace.
With the same group of children from the English clubs, we also were able to host a 2-day Bible Camp where Rachel, René, and I taught through 3 different Bible Stories: Ruth + Naomi, David, and Jesus. In this series we again focused on God’s character – His love and care, and ultimately the workings of His plan throughout history to offer salvation to all of mankind. Many of the children were engaged in the last days lesson as we shared the gospel and that salvation was purely by grace through faith – not through any work we do. In Tahiti false teachings are rampant, and they often cause great confusion. One girl present was able to ask many questions about what it means to be saved, and how someone can know for sure they will go to heaven when they die. What a blessing to be present for this and to know that the Lord’s Word has these answers. We also owe a big thank you to our friend Tepoe, who graciously translated for this event! On the last day, our time also culminated with an OCC shoebox gift-giving event and gospel presentation. This was led by our friends Edualdo and Alene, who I mentioned earlier. Everyone present had the opportunity to hear the gospel a second time and many responded! Then, shoebox gifts were given as a physical illustration of the free gift of salvation – how special it was to be a part of this event!
Also as a part of this trip, we were able to travel to the neighboring island of Moorea. This is where a women’s Bible study group had first been started last year and that I Rachel and I had been present for. How special it was to get to visit with these women again, and to see how the ministry had continued and grown under René’s guidance! They have been studying through a curriculum surveying different women in the Bible. We were also able to do a miniature version of the Bible camp with two local children on Moorea. It was great fun to watch the reaction of the little boy pictured as he listened to some of the Bible stories – it seemed to be the first time in his life he’d ever heard any such narratives!
To sum up, this was a fantastic trip. The Lord’s graciousness, mercies, and provision were abounding in many ways, though there were trials faced as well. One challenge faced was I battled a severe health issue. Some of you were aware and praying specifically for me, while others prayed without details. I am filled with gratitude for you as the Lord enabled me to be able to serve and participate despite the difficulties. I can also share that I am well and back to full health!
Please continue to keep the Perkins’ and French Polynesia in your prayers! Pray for continued growth and ministry as well as for new opportunities. There are many challenges to life and service here, as there are in most places. Recently, the country voted to become independent from France. This is a huge development and the impacts are far reaching. To keep up with Mark and René and read further details, please see their ministry website at the following link/web address: https://evanelia.org/