Population: 246,000 (UN, 2011)
Official languages: Bislama, French, English
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: Gud Nius Yunivesiti Felosip (GNYF)
Vanuatu is a group of islands in the South Pacific reached by Europeans in the early 1600s and evangelised by missionaries in the 1800s. As a result people were largely ‘Christianised’ and roughly 96% of the population claim to be Christians today. However strong bible teaching is needed in order for more to understand what it means to be disciples of Christ in their culture.
Student ministry takes place on the Law campus of the University of the South Pacific. Most of the students being reached are not from Vanuatu but from the other countries of the South Pacific.
- five tertiary institutions
- one VCF group, 70 students
- two part-time volunteers
It has been exciting to see the main meeting on Friday night increase from only 10 female students several years ago to 50-60 young men and women each week. This has come about through students getting involved in other student’s lives and God’s Spirit bringing about genuine conversions to Christ. These students come from 12 different Pacific island nations.
Student-led ministry combined with strong expository preaching and teaching are the strengths of the movement. The students always refer to the campus as one big family shows the strong feeling of community.
Students still need encouragement to see the need to actively evangelise their fellow students, many of whom claim to be Christians already. Wisdom is needed to challenge them to proclaim the lordship of Jesus over every aspect of life.
View from the inside
Stephen Gibb and his wife help lead the ministry in Vanuatu. He writes: ‘We are involved because God opened the door, pushed us through and gave us so many blessings we haven’t been able to leave. As we stay in contact with an increasing number of graduates whose lives are being transformed and used for God’s glory, we take great hope that the current work will continue to bear fruit that lasts.’
Stephen sees the ministry as part of what Paul talks about in Philippians 2:15-16: ‘So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault, in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.’
- for those who return to small island nations where church life is dominated by politics and religious ritual, that they will stay strong in their faith and witness;
- for avenues of continued growth in those who are new Christians.