The Marshall Islands got a little brighter this summer with the arrival of the first Marshallese GLOW tract. These pocket-sized pamphlets attract readers by offering information on relevant topics like health, relationships, and Biblical truths. This tract marks the first one published in the local island language.
It all started with a missionary named Elisa. A few years ago, Elisa was searching for God’s plan in her life when a friend suggested she become a missionary teacher. She could have chosen any tropical setting, but instead, felt called to go to the congested island of Ebeye in the Marshall Islands. Her love for children led her to the Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten teacher position at Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School and to serve again the following year as the second grade teacher (*Read more about Elisa’s missionary years at the links following this article).
Growing up in the vast state of Alaska, Elisa’s home had provided her the privacy of 80 acres. In contrast, she shared a small living space on the over-populated island of Ebeye that had a total area of 80 acres! Despite this transition, Elisa felt spoiled compared to the living conditions of her students.
When Elisa visited the homes of her students to meet their families, it opened her eyes to the environmental and emotional challenges that many of them faced. This understanding deepened her desire to share Jesus with her students during their hours at Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist School.
Elisa described the work on Ebeye to her mother, Desirée, who worked at GLOW Literature in central California. Desirée mailed tracts, which were readily available in English, to Ebeye but she wondered: Could we get the tracts to the Marshallese in their own language?
Inspired by her daughter’s passion to reach the Marshallese people, Desirée approached the then-principal of Ebeye SDA School, Raian Villacruel, with the idea. Her excitement grew as it merged with Principal Villacruel’s own dream to produce Christian literature in the Marshallese language.
After much discussion and prayer, Principal Villacruel, together with Pastor Rene Suhot of the Ebeye SDA Church, chose “Why I Go to Church on Saturday” as the first GLOW tract to be translated. About 97% of the Marshallese population is Christian, but less than 1% is Adventist. This imparts an important evangelism work for missionaries like Elisa who volunteer at the three Adventist schools in addition to the churches in the Marshall Islands.
The biggest task was finding a translator. They long road was blazed by prayer, but after many months of searching, help was finally found. Mrs. Kamlitha Bulles – an Adventist member of the Ebeye SDA Church – happened to be in Texas at the same time as Principal Villacruel and she agreed to begin the translation. Another local teacher in Majuro, Darrel Riklon, joined the endeavor to finish the translation work.
The completed transcript was delivered to Desirée who had, in the meantime, raised the entire cost of the printing. What began with an evangelism offering of $600 grew to almost two thousand dollars in a little over a year through her faithful personal savings. Finally, in July, the 23,900 GLOW tracts in Marshallese reached the capital city of Majuro and the tiny island of Ebeye.
Desirée said, “It is my prayer that many will be led to the complete loving truth of the Lord. This tract is in honor of the Lord, as my daughter Elisa listened to His calling to her heart for mission. I pray that her story (His story in her) can be retold to encourage others to leave all and follow the Lord. May it be like the widow’s mite, where she gave all, and God multiplied throughout all time.”
And multiplied it has.
Though this project took several years to complete, it began in the heart of one missionary. Her motivation was no less than love: “No matter where I go or what I do, I have this never-ending desire to help, heal, love and give of my time and service to those in need. This is where my passion and heart lie.”
Pray that these tracts spark the love of Jesus in people's hearts. And pray that more GLOW tract topics can be translated into the Marshallese language.