I know we sent out a newsletter already that showed the “numbers/stats/results” of 2017 so if you missed it here is the link – Changing Focus ministry stats of 2017. Here you see that in 2017 we made an impact on 9 islands with a total population of these islands being around 14,000 people. The largest of these islands is Ebeye where our base of operations is located. We are not able to reach every single person on Ebeye, but when we go to the outer islands we get to do just that. When we set sail with a team to do ministry on the outer islands, that are often 10+ hours of sailing away from electricity, refrigeration, internet, phones… ok I bet you’re getting the picture, we really get to make an impact not only to a community, but to every person on an island and in some cases, an entire atoll.
Sometimes we imagine just how much more we could get done with more people, more volunteers, more boats. Can you imagine just how much more we could get done?
In 2017 we were given the opportunity through the generosity of our supporters to reach the entire Atoll of Namu, giving away over 100 bibles. There are 4 islands that are inhabited in this atoll. The atoll is around 35 nautical miles long and around 12 miles wide at its widest. This does not seem like much but at around 5-7 miles an hour it takes a bit longer to get places. This atoll only has 2 entrances that can handle a keel (depth of our boat) of close to 10 ft deep. We achieved reaching this community with breaking it up into trips to the different islands. In the northern half of this atoll there are 2 inhabited islands that we visited in the first part of 2017 with the YWAM team from Kona. The first island we visited was Namu-Namu, population of 110. The second island we visited is called Majkin with a population 265. When we did these first 2 trips it was in the winter months and the ocean can be a bit rougher than the “normal”. I won’t kid you, it was a rough trip, especially for those that get sea sick.
But when you get there and you are told that they had not seen a missionary boat for 40+ years, then all the hardships, all the puke buckets, all the maintenance, all the money dumped into making the boat safe falls away. We are reminded that the very simple calling on our lives, away from our friends and more importantly our families back in the states, is really worth all the sacrifices we have made – to show these isolated people just how much God loves them!
The third trip to Namu Atoll happened later in the year, with a family from our home church Desert Song Community Church – Redmond, Oregon. Our wonderful friends Tim, Marci, Noah and Aaron Parks joined us on this voyage of 13 hours to get to the island of Mae, population of 124. Once there we did ministry for 6 days which included going by the government boat to the next island of Loen (law-in), population of 86. See some video of our time there here: Changing Focus Ministry Video. This video was made by Timothy Parks. Tim is a professional photographer/videographer, visit his page here: Timothy Park. I think you will agree with me, that he is very good at his job.
So much is involved when I say, we did “ministry”. Living as a missionary and doing life with the people is so much different then just doing a short term missions trip for us. We now understand some of the culture, some of the why’s and why nots, the reasons why they are so shy at first and then when they get to watch you in action – especially with their kids, how the communities embrace us, then love you (most of the time) almost like family. For them to hear that we have lived here in the Marshall Islands for 3 years in itself opens doors and yes, the fact that we are good friends with a lot of the RIGHT influencers of this island chain also helps.
Yes, on paper it looks like we did a lot but in the whole scheme of things for us, we see another hundred islands out there still waiting to be reached with each of them having their own story to tell. I am sure there are many islands waiting for the “first” missionary boat in 40+ years to come along. We know we need more help. More boats, more people. We have started the talk of getting land to build on so that we can have a place for others to live and do ministry here. If you have any inclination in your heart to do something, please let us know so we can help you with the next step. Reach us here: Changing Focus Ministry – web page.