A Frenchman in Vanuatu
Peter has been exploring the French side of Vanuatu.
You may not be aware, but French is one of the three main languages in Vanuatu (Bislama and English are the other two). On Wednesday I was presented with the opportunity of visiting a French school on Epi Island – they told me that I was the first French man who had ever visited this remote school!
I gave the primary school a short talk on ‘Jesus is the only way to salvation’, and taught them two gospel songs. It was quite an experience to see the class writing down the words of the songs and being so open and teachable.
During the mission, I was interested to find out what level of French people have here. But because people didn’t expect to meet someone speaking French, I had to be intentional about this. In Port Vila, I engaged with people in the street, and those who had done French may not have spoken it for years. However, their level of French was nevertheless surprising. At church, I met one such man who hadn’t spoken French for 18 years. Yet he was so pleased to speak to me and I was amazed at how quickly it all came back to him!
At the University Christian Fellowship, I met a recent graduate from university who went to French school. And even though he had never been to New Caledonia or to France, his French was virtually perfect. However, at the local Bible School on Epi Island, I was introduced to one pastor’s wife who went through the French School system. In her case, after 5 years, she found it hard to hold a conversation. Speaking to Joel Atwood (local CMS missionary), I discovered that the French University of Technology is receiving a lot of investment.
From this trip to Vanuatu, I think it could be worthwhile offering the Moore College French Correspondence Course to students. But I also realise that it would be worthwhile tailoring the questions to address the cultural challenges that people here face. It would also be best to target new graduates, since they can lose their French from lack of practice after college. Can you pray with me to see how this knowledge could be turned into action for the advancement of the kingdom of God?
One concern I have for the remote places in Vanuatu is their openness to ‘white man’. While I was encouraged by their openness and teachable spirit, my thoughts were later disturbed by how quick they were to trust me. Please pray for these people, that God would protect them from false teachers in the short term, as well as raise up godly men who would be able to lead his people before times of trial come, when they will have to face false teachers.