Finding Christ through the radio

One evening last year on the island of Saipan, Wanes Joab was listening to his radio at home. He was skimming through the stations and happened to stumble upon someone preaching. The preacher was speaking about the book of Revelation. This intrigued Wanes and he continued to listen.

More and more, Wanes kept tuning in and his curiosity grew. He liked the stories this particular radio station was sharing. “These were real stories, about real people,” said Wanes. “They came from really messed up lives and now they were stress free,” he said. Wanes particularly liked a series call “Unshackled” that was broadcasted on the station. “I was feeling what these people were feeling before they met Christ and I was comparing my life to their life.”

Wanes had also been telling his girlfriend, Maria, about this new radio station. During that time Maria had been experiencing depression and was yearning a difference in her spiritual life. She was raised as a Catholic. And he was raised as an Evangelical. During their courtship, Wanes showed her all of the new things he was learning in the Bible. She saw that he was different than all of the other guys that she had dated in the past. He was genuinely interested in what he was learning and wanted her to know as well.

During one of the times Wanes was listening to the station, he heard an advertisement about an evangelistic seminar called The Revelation of Hope. Because he was interested in the programming that the station was offering, he thought it would be interesting to go to the seminars. “The seminars were going to speak about the book of Revelation, and I was interested,” he said. The evangelistic seminars lasted for about three weeks.

One of the things Wanes kept hearing on the radio was the term “Happy Sabbath.” His curiosity led him to ask a friend what the term meant. His friend explained to him the meaning of the Sabbath. Wanes and Maria both worked for a local hotel, which caused them to work on the Sabbath. Because of their new fund belief, both prayed about their dilemma. The results? Wanes was offered a job in the accounting office, which did not cause for him to work on the Sabbath. Maria was allowed to adjust her schedule, however, she had to work graveyard shifts to make up for her being off on Fridays and Saturdays.

Because of the biblical prophecy information shown to them during seminars, they both decided to get baptized in May of 2011. It was at the conclusion of the seminars that they found out that the seminars were a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They both became members of the Central Saipan Seventh-day Adventist Church. The members of the Central Church welcomed them with open arms. One of the things both Maria and Wanes liked about the members was their warm hospitality.

In addition to being happy about their new life in Jesus, Wanes and Maria are happy about their new life together. They were married in January 2012.

So, do you wonder what the name of the radio station is that Wanes tuned in to? It is JOY FM, a radio stationed operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church that broadcasts to Guam, Palau, Saipan, and Tinian. According to the website,  “JOY FM has been an important influence in many giving their hearts to Christ and is a daily encouragement to thousands more. As Isaiah states ‘Let us give glory unto God and declare His praise in the islands!’ Let’s continue to use JOY FM as a tool to reach as many lives as possible before Christ returns.”

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A note from Tom Evans

Here is a note I received from Tom Evans on Wednesday concerning his team’s portion of the trip. Please note that the time where we are is already after 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning:

Today we left Chuuk this morning in a motorboat driven by the pastor and the elder.  It was an open boat with outboard motor and no shade from sun. It was about a two-hour trip. The school is operated by a couple from the Philippines with a couple from American that are nurses and teachers who work in the clinic and another couple that teaches. It is a very remote location to say the least. On the way back we encountered several storms, stopped to snookle to see some giant clams and see a missionary couple. The ocean was rough and we were soaked and got in after dark.

We will see the Chuuk School some more tomorrow and fly off again.

An e-postcard from Pohnpei

Please take a look at an email I received from Alex Bryant, executive secretary, (who is a member of Team A) that he sent yesterday describing their trip:

 

Yesterday we arrived in Pohnpei. The people greeted us with leis at the airport and escorted us to a VIP lounge at the airport while they retrieved our luggage. The principal, pastor  and several board members were there to greet us. We visited the school and met with over 20 delightful student missionaries (SMs). The SMs along with some of the staff cooked a potluck to welcome us to the Island. Today, we met with the lieutenant governor to talk about ways we can collaborate and help benefit and uplift the citizens of Pohnpei . We had an opportunity to visit some historic ruins and a fabulous waterfall on the Island. This evening we met the church board and other key leaders and then had a prayer meeting followed by welcome/goodbye social called “YAKWA.” We fellowshipped with the SMs and church members for well over an hour after prayer meeting ended. A long but beneficial day. Tomorrow we will visit some of the classrooms before leaving for the airport.

We have been impressed with the kindness and hospitality of the people and inspired by the dedication and the commitment of the SMs and AVS workers. We hope to see the rest of you guys in Guam in the next couple of days.

Sitting in the Guam airport; on the way to Saipan

I’m sitting in the Guam airport looking at the schedule for our visit to Saipan.

Here is what we know about Saipan:
Saipan is the largest island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They have 6 congregations (this includes 4 in Saipan, 1 in Rota, and 1 in Tinian) one elementary school, and one clinic.

Take a look at what my schedule entails for today. By the way, it is early Wednesday morning:

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22
Arrive Wed. Feb. 22 at 7:50 a.m. – Welcomed at the airport by Dr. Pierson, Pastor Sotomayor, Elder Martin, Micheal Berglund and available students and church members.

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast
9:30-10:30 a.m. – Tour of the Clinic and Church premises lead by Dr. Pierson and Pastor Sotomayor
10:30 a.m. – Head to Kagman with a stop at Forbidden island look-out and Tank Beach then head to Kagman Church plant and Clinic
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
2:00 p.m. – Island Tour lead by Ranger Brian Piercy beginning at American Mermorial Park
5:00 p.m. – Check in to hotel
5:45-6:45 a.m. – Dinner
7:00 p.m. – Island wide combined Vespers (I’m preaching!)

THURSDAY, FEB. 23
6:30-7:30a.m.
–  Breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Assembly at the school followed by tour of classes
10:00 a.m. – Tour Korean Company
12:00 p.m. – Fly to Tinian
LUNCH in Tinian
Tour of Tinian including the Church Company
5:00 p.m. – Fly back to Saipan
6:30 p.m. – Dinner

FRIDAY, Feb. 24
6:00 a.m.
– Breakfast
7:00 a.m. – Leave for the airport
8:25 a.m. – Depart Saipan

Yap in just a few days

Here is a quick recap of what happened in Yap:

We sat in the front yard of the Yap Seventh-day Adventist Church this past Sunday. The members and the student missionaries welcomed us with a feast of some local foods and pizza. During the evening service, they got a chance to ask questions about their island being a part of the NAD territory.

On Monday, we got a chance to visit with the students, faculty, and staff of the Yap Seventh-day Adventist School – known simply on the island as SDA. Jose Rojas delivered two devotionals to the student body – lower grades and upper grades.

 

 

After visiting with the students, we attended a memorial service for Kirsten Wolcott, the student missionary who was killed just two years ago. Kirsten was a blessing to the SDA School and her Christian presence is surely missed by the faculty, staff, and students.



Tuesday was an action packed day. We visited with various members of the Yap government. Our greatest desire at the NAD is to do all we can to assist here with the Yapese people to achieve goals and aspirations whether that be health, education, youth development, etc. After visiting with the public officials, we got a chance to observe all of the teachers in the classrooms. I am especially pleased with the work that the student missionaries are accomplishing. Hats off to Rychelle, Sabrina, Pam, and Jesse!

We concluded our trip with seeing a cultural Yapese dance and tour through a village area. The dance depicted their pain and suffering after World War II. A few of the students of SDA were even the dancers.

I’d like personally thank Pastor Sherwyn of the Yap Church as well as his two members – Jeff and Benedict – for showing us around the island for the past two days. We all love you, Yap Church family!

Currently, I am in the lobby of the Yap Pacific Dive Resort and we leave in a few hours on our way to Saipan! All I can say is that I am tired but happy to meet the people of Saipan on tomorrow.

In memory of Kirsten

Today was filled with sad emotions as we visited the site where the body of Kirsten Wolcott was found. Kirsten was a student missionary teacher at the SDA School in Yap. Although the murder of Kirsten took place in November of 2009 it is still fresh in the minds of the workers and students of SDA School.

God, through His Holy Spirit, is reaching out to our colleagues, Debra Brill, who was like a second mother to Kirsten; Jose Rojas, who knew Kirsten as well and personally processed her paperwork to become a student missionary; and others that worked with her, and taking all of them in a big embrace and tell us that He loves and understands even though we don’t understand. There will be a better day. God will wipe the tears.

Here are some of the words that others shared at today’s memorial service:

“I had a lot questions the morning we found Kirsten. I seemed to question the Lord a lot. But what I am seeing today is that God allowed people to become closer to Him from what happened. Words cannot describe how we felt. We loved this precious servant of the Lord.” – Jeff, a member of the Yap church and police officer that found Kirsten

“As the trauma unveiled here on the island each one of you with great courage responded. We too believe that from tragedy will come life. We pledge that this death shall not have been in vein. Many students still testify of being a student in her classroom.” – Jose Rojas

“As I stand here I think of Kirsten’s commitment to be a student missionary. I look in the faces of all the student missionaries and I see the same commitment. I also think of her parent’s and their commitment. They didn’t look back and think that she made a wrong decision. They supported her decision. I want to honor her parents today for the commitment that they made.” – Larry Blackmer

“Even though we went through an excruciating experience, people around the island see that we love the Lord and that we are committed to furnishing a Christian education for the children of this island.” – Louis Torres, president of the Guam Micronesia Mission

“I remember Kirsten as a person who always jumped in wherever there was a need. She would also help my wife and I with our baby. I know that when Jesus comes again she will be meeting us.” – Principal of SDA School

“Kirsten was truly a little woman of God who had a huge heart for Jesus. She also loved children. The work that goes on here is celebrated in her memory.” – Debra Brill

Pictured above: NAD leadership, SDA School officials, and Yap Church members placed flowers around the tree next to the murder site in memory of Kirsten Wolcott. Jose Rojas, director of volunteer ministries, Debra Brill, vice president and family friend of the Wolcotts, and Larry Blackmer, vice president, share memories of Kirsten after the memorial service.

Paul’s view

Here is a message I received from Paul Brantley, vice president, who is with another group traveling the Micronesia islands:

Those of us in Group B left Maryland Tuesday morning (2/14) and arrived in Honolulu Tuesday afternoon. We crossed the dateline arriving in Ebeye, Marshall Islands, on Thursday afternoon. Ebeye is one of the most densely populated islands in the world. 15,000 people in 80 acres and no high rises! In some houses, people have to take turns sleeping for lack of space. Since there’s no room for an airport, we arrived here by speed boat from a military base. Because planes come and leave so infrequently, we have to stay here five days. We were warned this would be the toughest itinerary of all the four groups.

This island is a step back in time by 30 or 40 years with an innocence that is disarming. What makes the place so special are the dark-skinned natives called “Marshallese.” They are some of the friendliest, happiest people I’ve ever met.  Crime is low and the drug/pop lifestyle has apparently passed by this place, maybe because of its isolation. Women and girls wear skirts with modest pants underneath. The children all greet us with big smiles and “high fives.” No one seems to be cross over there unfortunate lots in life. Time is eternity here and no one rushes.  Appointments are quite “flexible” as we’re finding.  Most folks know some degree of English.

We found accommodations at the Islands only hotel—Hotel Ebeye.  Modest but pretty clean and free from the lizards and palmetto bugs we have in Florida.  Rooms are air-conditioned with the luxury of a small refrigerator to boot!

On Friday, we spent at the Ebeye SDA School of 275. Very few of these children are members of the Adventist faith. The three-story school is the tallest edifice on the island. Classrooms are very primitive. Teachers are volunteer student missionaries mainly from America who all live in a cramped, run-down apartment house along with the pastor of the one church on the Island and his family, the school principal, and other volunteers from America.

I was the vesper speaker Friday night to a very respectful, receptive audience.  Dennis Plubell from our Education Office had Sabbath School. Alvin Kibble, another NAD Vice President, spoke for Church services and Tom Evans, our Division treasurer had Sabbath evening vespers featuring some of his fascinating travels to the Bible lands.

Saturday night, 2.18.2012
A joyous Sabbath with the 70 members crowded into a school classroom as the church has no building of its own. Elder Kibble gave a rousing sermon followed by a tasty potluck sponsored by several Filippino and Marshallese ladies from the church and school.

The school—and everything else—is just yards away from the ocean where the sound of the surf and a brisk breeze blew incessantly through the church. Later, Sabbath afternoon, Elder Kibble and I led the church leaders through a REACH leadership training exercise.  It went so well the members requested a Part Two tomorrow night!