Expat Magazine

A Rough Road to Mission Fields

By Tomrichards @talkabouttanna
On Tanna vehicles are things that are pushed as well as driven

On Tanna vehicles are things that are pushed as well as driven

As well at teaching at a Bible college on Tanna, I have also been asked by Southern Islands Presbytery to support a group of local mission workers who are working to evangelise members of the John Frum cult and the ‘Unity in Christ’ Movement.

I am not sure exactly what my role will be, but I will be involved in training, encouraging, and providing resources.  To do this effectively I need to be able to get to their villages.  That is where the vehicle comes in.

Tanna is different to many other islands in Vanuatu.  On most islands the people tend to live around the cost leaving the interior less populated.  But this is not so on Tanna.  On Tanna people live all over the island in small villages.

Riding Tanna style! This is one of Tanna's good roads

Riding Tanna style! This is one of Tanna’s good roads

Other islands such as Malakula and Santo also have many villages in their interior, but Tanna is different again in that there are far more roads that connect these villages.  There is a “Bush Mission” on Santo but it is in a very rough area where the only access is by foot. But on Tann you can get at least close to most villages with a good 4WD vehicle, and that is what we intend to do.

You can pay for transport  but even just a 20km round trip can cost $100 making frequent trips to mission fields unfeasible.  The feedback from mission workers in the past has been that visits from their local director have been too infrequent, so to effectively support these people while still dedicating the majority of time to the Bible college, we really need a vehicle.

Creek crossing on the way to the Bible college after heavy rain

Creek crossing on the way to the Bible college after heavy rain

The roads are rough and very rough in parts so we need a good strong 4WD.  Even to get to our home at the Bible College is a rough road with three creek crossings.  A ute is helpful for moving things like building material and we have four kids so the ideal vehicle would be a dual-cab 4WD ute such as a Hilux, Landcruiser, Navara, Patrol, Triton (L200), Isuzu D-MAx, etc.

To the praise of God our home Presbytery in Western Australia has given us a financial gift so that we can buy a vehicle and so engage in this work.

Buying an appropriate vehicle is one reason why we are in Vila (Vanuatu’s capital) for a while before going to Tanna.  However, it is proving to be a difficult task.

Used vehicles are in high demand, sell for very high prices compared to Australia, and are often in poor condition.  We soon realised that we had underestimated the amount that we need to spend.  Cheaper cars tend to be in not good enough condition to handle Tanna’s rough roads.  Vehicles that are in good condition are really quite expensive.  Another dilemma is that we were looking for an older model because newer models have computers and are harder to repair, but then again, most older cars are in pretty poor shape.

One of the best

One of the best “roads” on Tanna is the ash plain next to the volcano

We talked to some missionaries who have been on Tanna for about 10 years about their vehicle.  Their story wasn’t about one vehicle but rather a list of vehicles that they went through.  Their message was clear: get the best vehicle you can!

So that is what we are trying to do.  As you can see there are many factors involved and a lot to weigh up with each car we look at.

Please pray for us that God in his grace will provide something.

There will be frequent updates about or progress via our facebook page

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