Vanuatu | March 2

Standing Tall for Christ

Maxwell

Pain shot through Maxwell’s knee, and he fell to the ground in agony. His soccer teammates helped him off the field and to the campus nurse. When the pain persisted for more than a few days, the nurse urged Maxwell to see a doctor. 

Surprise Diagnosis

The doctor frowned and pointed to a shadow on the X-ray of Maxwell’s knee. “Your pain isn’t from an injury,” he said soberly. “You have a tumor, and it could be cancer. We need to remove the tumor as soon as possible.”

Maxwell sat stunned. I have cancer? he thought. He needed to pray and decide what to do. He needed to tell his parents. 

“Someone has placed a curse on you,” Maxwell’s father told him on the phone. “Come home, where we can treat you with traditional medicines.” Maxwell didn’t believe in curses or magic; but he said goodbye to his friends at Fulton College in Fiji and flew back to his island home in the South Pacific. As he traveled, he wondered if his father was right, whether someone had cursed him. Certainly some people were angry with him.

A New Life

Maxwell grew up on a small island in Vanuatu [vah-noo-AH-too]. There people worshipped stones and trees. They treated injuries and sicknesses with herbs from the forests that surrounded their thatched homes. 

Maxwell and his brother traveled to another island to complete high school. There he was introduced to Adventist young people who worshipped in the school cafeteria on Sabbath. He was impressed with their dedication to God and their careful study of the Bible.  He skipped his work assignment and joined the Adventists for worship. He told his brother about the Adventists, and before long both boys asked to join the Adventist Church.

Maxwell graduated from high school and returned home to his island to teach in a primary school. He and his brother were the only Adventists in the village. One day the Adventist pastor asked Maxwell to take over a Global Mission project that another pioneer had started. Maxwell agreed, and he began studying with people and holding cottage meetings. His brother joined him, and soon 12 more villagers were baptized. 

The Confrontations

Maxwell and the new believers gathered local materials to build a church. But some villagers didn’t want another church in their area, and while Maxwell was away, they tore down the church. 

The members built the church again, but the enemies tore it down again. The troublemakers took Maxwell to court, accusing him of building the church on their land. But Maxwell proved that the land was his, and the judge ordered the villagers to leave the church alone. 

The next Sabbath, while the new believers worshipped, the troublemakers destroyed the believers’ gardens. Some wanted to fight, but Maxwell, his father, and the chief quieted the people. “God has called me to raise up a church in this village,” Maxwell said. “You don’t want to get in God’s way.”

A Dream and a Loss

Maxwell continued serving God in his home village for 18 months. Then he was offered a scholarship to study theology at Fulton College in Fiji. His family didn’t want him to go, but Maxwell was determined. His dream was to serve God. He left the church members in his brother’s care and set off for Fiji.

His studies went well, and he enjoyed spending free moments with students from throughout the Pacific region. Then he injured his knee while playing soccer. His parents were convinced that Maxwell’s enemies had cursed him.

He arrived home limping in pain. His parents took him to a traditional healer who treated him with healing leaves. But the pain continued to get worse. Maxwell begged his parents to allow him to have surgery, but they refused. After a few months he could no longer walk. The pain kept him from eating and sleeping.

Finally his parents sent him and his brother to the capital city, where doctors examined him and told him that his tumor had spread, and his leg must be amputated. He agreed; he would do anything to stop the pain.

Standing for God

Maxwell wondered if God had a place for a one-legged soldier. But he’s learning that God can do anything.. “I want to grow strong enough to return to college and continue preparing to serve God,” he says. “I trust God’s love as I face the difficulties in my life. I want to stand tall for Jesus, who died for me.”

Our mission offerings are helping build new congregations of believers in Vanuatu and throughout the world. Thank you for giving so that others can hear God’s voice and choose to follow Him.

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