It is interesting that the phrase “stoking the fires” is our tagline and the name of our blog/website. We see one of our desires (Jeremiah 20:9 and checkout one of our first blog posts) is to ignite a “fire” in the Tiale people and the people of Vanuatu to both come to God and be passionate in their walks with Him. Our Tiale friends frequently discuss with us that our time away, because of lock-down, made them like “dry wood”, they did not progress, but they yearned for more teachings. Since we have been back, they keep using this phrase “you guys make the fire in us get stronger (for our faith).” As always, it is a humbling thing to be used by the Lord and so exciting to see how He is fanning into flame a hunger for Himself and His Word.
We cannot articulate all the glorious things that God is doing here in the jungle, but we will try to summarize them here:
-Many of the Christians have been growing in their faith, finding strength to walk in right relationship with God amidst the animism and shame culture.
-Many of the leaders are learning how to actually shepherd their flocks, while also being proactive in discipling their members.
-Many married couples are growing in their relationships with one another, some proactively desiring to model that Christ-like marriage in Ephesians 5.
-Many parents desiring to break the chains of traditions and pursue spouses for their children that align with their Christian values, not traditional values.
-Many are coming to the Lord; hearing a clear Gospel (many for the first time), and also hearing it in their own language.
We continue to live life on life with the Tiale people, we have been teaching them Chronologically (Firm Foundations 1-3) since 2016, and then trained several leaders in 2019 to be able to teach those materials in their own villages. It has been years of planting seeds, but now we are seeing some real harvest in people coming to the Lord (hearing a clear Gospel), while also seeing Christians rejoice in their freedom they have in walking by the Spirit and no longer being slaves to sin. One of the believers recently said, “we are starting to see people as firewood, we are testing it, when it rains will it still lite or not. Is it wet and dead or ready to make a big fire? Only strong, dry wood lites in the rain. We see a lot of wet wood here in our villages. We want to share the Word so people can become dry wood and lite a strong fire that warms everyone.”
Over the past few months, we have been diving deeper into parts of Romans with many of the Tiale people, and imparting unto the them the Truths of being controlled by the Spirit. This exposure has immediately shown fruit in the more mature believers, realizing that they can have a close relationship with God, enjoy it, and not be consumed by sin.
When we first got back, we immediately returned to having multiple studies with various groups, and early on we saw a disparity in many of them and also in their prayer lives. One Sunday night, an older believer in our village rang the bell (how they inform the community of a meeting), and thus began our weekly prayer meeting for the body of believers here. Through this special time, we have seen God answer many prayers; people who left the faith have come back to church, God restoring marriages, several people have given clear testimonies of changed lives, and much much more. God desires for all His children to unite in corporate prayer and we have been excited to see a new spark in these believers.
Lastly, as a result of prayer, one of the local leaders was stirred in his heart to take care of a dying church (he already pastors another church). On Sundays, he is now teaching in the morning in one village, and then hikes to teach at another village that night (about a 3-hour hike away). God is doing great things! Continue to pray for the Tiale people and for God to continue growing them according to His divine will.
-Your feet to the Tiale people and the country of Vanuatu,
Seth and Nicole Stokes.