I didn’t need God. My life was comfortable. I was fed up with religion, fed up with feeling judged for not living up to the standards of a ‘good Christian’. I didn’t even want that kind of lifestyle. I was fine as I was.
Fanga moved from Tonga to Vanuatu in 2017 to study law. In her first month there, her friend invited her to go along to the student fellowship group. This is Fanga’s story.
I didn’t want to go. But I didn’t feel like I could say no, so with reluctance, I started attending. It was a totally new experience. I hadn’t realised how shallow my knowledge of the Bible was. For the first time, I was seeing and experiencing the real Jesus for myself, and it was compelling.
Each Wednesday we’d meet to study God’s Word. These weekly Bible studies, together with the teaching at the IFES South Pacific Regional Conference (SPARC), helped me to start to understand the grace of God. Following rules might make me seem like a good person, but it wouldn’t change my heart. It was only through trusting in God’s grace, freely given to me, that I could be saved, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Without Him, my life was meaningless and my happiness was temporary. But in Him I’ve found joy.
I now feel the urgency to tell others about Christ. Everyone should have the chance to hear about Him, and I want to live a life that makes Jesus and his Word easily accessible to everyone.
Seeking out the strangers
Our university is diverse. We have students coming from all over the South Pacific to study here, as well as a large number of local students. This makes our fellowship group a wonderfully messy mixture of cultures, languages and church backgrounds, finding common ground in Jesus.
Most students in the university have heard about Jesus and have some familiarity with the Bible. But they don’t understand the gospel. Lots of them, like me a few years ago, want a break from religion, having been hurt by rules-based churches in the past. They need to see the real Jesus. That’s why all our programs revolve around introducing students to Jesus through the Bible. Only that can change mindsets.
Beyond our campus
We are now seeing a change on campus. Students are hungry to know Jesus. They come along because they want to dig in to the Bible. A year ago, small Bible study groups started in student accommodation blocks. And now we offer three meetings a week – one in English and two in Bislama (Vanuatu broken English).
We’re witnessing God’s work beyond our campus gates too. Our national movement, GNYF, is pioneering student groups in the francophone universities in Vanuatu, and regionally there is pioneering work starting in New Caledonia. But my heart is for my homeland – Tonga. Please pray with me for the same work to start there in the next year or two.