Image of Kelly GissendanerCrossroad Bible Institute’s satellite campuses in the South Pacific are praying for the nation of Vanuatu, which was devastated last week by Tropical Cyclone Pam. “Australia has rushed aid and manpower to Vanuatu. It will take some time to restore the situation,” reported CBI Australia director Ray Hoekzema.

Vanuatu is an archipelago of eighty-three islands lying east of northern Australia. In recent years, Vanuatu has become a popular tourist destination, yet the country remains one of the poorest in the South Pacific.

The country’s already weak infrastructure stood little chance against Cyclone Pam’s 211 mph winds. Bridges crumbled, thatched roof houses were obliterated and reportedly, entire villages were razed. Vanuatu’s government estimates that nearly 70 percent of the island’s inhabitants have been displaced.

CBI Australia has worked hard over the years to build relationships and enroll students in Vanuatu’s prisons with hopes of expanding the Crossroad program throughout the islands. Thanks to the dedication of fieldworker Terry West, CBI Australia already oversees the distribution of lessons in nearby countries such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and, hopefully soon, Tasmania.

While access restrictions to Vanuatu’s prisons have posed challenges in recent years, Hoekzema remains hopeful that more doors will open when the time is right. “I have no doubt that in the Lord’s time, we will be there,” he said.

Cyclone Pam also hit New Zealand as a tropical storm. However, as CBI New Zealand director Peggy Landkroon reported, the damage was not devastating.

“By the time the cyclone hit New Zealand on the east coast, which is where we are, there was just a lot of rain,” she said. Landkroon added that CBI New Zealand will continue to lift up the people of Vanuatu in prayer.

Crossroad’s international coordinator Jacob Busscher echoed Landkroon’s sentiments. “We are thankful that students in the South Pacific were not affected directly by Cyclone Pam, but we know this disaster will have drastic effects on Vanuatu’s society,” he said. “We are praying that proper aid will be sent to the people who need it and that God will open more doors for Crossroad to minister to Vanuatu’s prison population in the future.”