Rebuilding of the William Gray Memorial Church, Tanna Island, Vanuatu Project

Nearly There…
From Rev Dr Jaco Reyneke

Now waiting for timber for window and door frames, cement to plaster outside and paint.
Last roof plate going on

“When people ask us: ‘How are you able to build such a big church?’, we answer them: ‘God is doing it.’”  one of the many people from the community who helped build the church, told me. And that is true. God orchestrated the project and used many people and churches to uplift, enthuse and inspire the very isolated community of Waisisi. The project did not only enable them to build themselves a church, but gave them hope, strengthened their faith, was a strong witness to those without a relationship with Jesus Christ, and enabled new imaginings of growth and making a difference in their community. It was a great privilege to spend the first week of July with the community of Waisisi. The generosity and warm way in which we were welcomed into the community was inspirational. The way in which everybody engages with the build blew me away!

People in the community with building experience gained in Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand took the lead and the whole community got behind the project. The blocks were made using sand hauled up the hill in bags from the beach, and the two moulds that were available. Everything done manually. Great care was taken to strengthen the structure as much as possible. The roof is probably painted by now. It is important to protect the roof from the acid rain created by the active volcano, Mount Yasur (about 15km away). As more cement, timber and paint are sent by Neville Jones from Port Vila, the outside is going to be plastered, the windows and doors made and the whole building will be painted.

The plan is currently for the church to be commissioned on the 25th of August before the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu’s General Assembly starts on the 26th just up the hill from Waisisi.

Jonah Robert (leader of the community standing in right of picture below) writes: “On behalf of Moderator and the Congregation of Waisisi Presbyterian Church, we greet you all Master’s greetings. We want to share our deepest heart of appreciation, for what you have done for us. We thank God Almighty for the seeds planted in your heart, Rev, and also extended to other hearts, for the financial assistance to supporting the New Church building, 10m x 20m. We have nothing to give in return but our sincere prayer that God will double portion you his blessing from heaven above. Once again, a million thanks for supporting us, in one way, or the other. Before we end, we also wanted if we continue our relationship between both of us, strong in future to come.”

The congregation has already established a committee whose task it is to work towards putting in a ceiling and maintaining the building.

I would like to acknowledge the wonderful work Neville and Gloria Jones are doing in Vanuatu and for their logistical support and hospitality during our recent visit.

A deep felt thank you, once again, to every person who contributed to and is involved with this wonderful work of God in Waisisi, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.




From Rev Dr Jaco Reyneke

With God the Way is Easy (Waisisi)

When I wrote to Neville Jones (PCANZ Global Mission Worker in Vanuatu): “Just wanted to share the wonderful news that we have reached our fundraising target for the Waisisi building project – as a matter of fact, we have exceeded it to such an extent that we do not need to use the $9,000.00 of the Moderators Fund! It is amazing and I am quite overwhelmed with how God has provided far beyond expectation.”, his response was: “What wonderful news and we seem to always be surprised of what God does, but we shouldn’t be surprised.”

God first whispered into my heart that the rebuilding of this church in Waisisi will bring hope, encourage faith, will be an example of the Body of Christ caring for each other, and have significant missional value, while I was standing in front of the brothers and sisters you can see in the photos. Back home, when I got disheartened, God sent Iain Dickson and Ann Owen to stir me up again. I saw the enthusiastic endorsement of the project by the Global Mission office and the Kaimai Presbytery as God’s confirmation and blessing on the project.

The fact that Global Mission was prepared to underwrite the project with the last $9,000.00 available for work in Vanuatu, and a generous matching of the amount by the Mission in Motion group of Matamata, was further motivation and brought a sense that God is doing this.

God moved in people’s hearts and donations came from individuals, congregations and even as far afield as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the USA. Every dollar is going to encourage the faith of a small congregation who has been praying for very long that God may restore their beloved William Gray Memorial Church. A very generous donation from Cambridge Union Church stirred deep emotions and again gratitude for God’s goodness through his people. A heartfelt THANK YOU to each person, group and church who responded to this call! You were part of God’s love in action. 

We await God’s guidance as to the application of the $4,337.00 raised in excess of the quote we based the target amount on. It will cover inevitable variations in costs and perhaps buy some Bibles and a few chairs for the congregation to sit on. All money raised will be used for ministry in this congregation.

Neville has flown over to Tanna, from Port Vila – where he is based – to assess the situation on the ground and get the project going. He will keep us updated.

Please pray that God will bless the building process and that the congregation will be able to give thanks to God as they welcome the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu in their building in August next year.

However the project proceeds from here on, I know God is leading the way. May this project encourage many people on their journey to eternal life. “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” (John 17:3)