(Sam Paris is an AGWM missionary to Vanuatu.)
After Cyclone Harold earlier this year, roads on Vanuatu’s remote island of Pentecost were impassable. On Pentecost — one of the hardest hit islands — landslides and insanely high winds washed away sections of the dirt roads, remaking the landscape into something even wilder and more challenging.
From the very beginning of this year’s cyclone relief effort, we had prayed for God to use us, to open doors for us to share the gospel, and that lives would be changed forever. We also prayed that God would lead us every step of the way and that only His will would be done!
So we strapped on our packs and trekked up a mountain into central Pentecost, into the extremely remote village of Ratap. The whole community greeted us, eager to see who was willing to make the trip to visit them.
As we made introductions and explained why we had come, the chief came out of his hut. I immediately noticed a gaping wound on the back of his hand. When I got closer to him, I could see the wound was about 2 inches across and extremely deep, exposing the tendons. His hand was badly swollen and grossly infected. He was in so much pain that he could not lift it.
The chief had gone spear fishing, he explained, trying to get food for his family. While in the ocean, an octopus attacked him. It gripped his arm and ripped a chunk out of his hand before he could detangle himself from it. Now his hand was swollen, and his body badly infected.
The outer islands of Vanuatu have limited to no medical care — an infected wound is deadly out here.
After being shown around the area and making assessments of their needs after the cyclone, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to pray for the chief.
I asked him if I could pray for God to heal his hand. Ratap does not have access to any church and still follows traditional animistic beliefs, but after some consideration, he agreed. I prayed with excitement, because we have been asking God for opportunities to make Him known and see Him work in wondrous ways. Shortly after our prayer, we said our goodbyes.
Three weeks later, we returned to Pentecost in a ship filled with rice and canned meat for distribution. When we got to Ratap, the chief came running. He held up his hand, showing me that the swelling was gone and the gaping wound had become just a small scab!
The chief told me that as soon as we had prayed for his festering wound, it had stopped weeping! That day and every day thereafter, it got better and better.
He then asked if I would be willing to do for others what I had done for him. I excitedly explained that it was God who healed him, and that I would be happy to pray for others. The chief led me from hut to hut, where I was able to lay hands on the sick and broken, asking God to heal them and make His presence known to them!