After a lot of prayer, studying, and discussion, we decided to focus on Micronesia and move to Pohnpei. There is a wonderful family, the Shanahans, currently working there, but after 12 years in the islands, they will be leaving in 2017 to continue the Lord's work elsewhere. We are excited about continuing their work in Pohnpei and Kosrae as well as branching out to other islands. We will continue work in Chuuk and rotate out with the Treats, and we have plans to eventually reach out to Yap, an island that has been reached out to very little by the church.
The Federated States of Micronesia is located in the West Pacific Ocean and is made up of 4 states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, & Kosrae. It is part of the Caroline Islands, along with Palau. FSM consists of 607 small islands (65 inhabited) and extends 1,700 miles. The last FSM census was in 2000, and at that point the population was 107,000: 53,500 in Chuuk and 34,500 in Pohnpei. Chuuk has 3 small congregations, Kosrae has 1, Pohnpei has 2, and Yap is unknown. About 9 years ago, a couple brothers went to Yap and baptized about 5 or 6 islanders, but no one from the church has been back since, as far as we are aware, and the church was not there before. There is a lot to be done in Yap. The local congregations in Chuuk and Pohnpei have local men who can preach, but they and the other members of the church need a lot of education and training in studying deeper in the word and on holding Bible studies and effective evangelism. It is possible for the churches to become self-sufficient, but right now, they need a lot of training and guidance and studying to get deeper into the truth and get off of the milk of the Word.
The islanders are very communal people, so to reach out to them, we will need to dive into the communities. They don't usually like to do much on their own, so one on one Bible studies will often turn into a group study. It's very easy to get islanders to sit and talk with you, but it takes a lot more time to get them to change their ways, even when they know their ways are wrong. Holding community classes and programs will be a great way to reach out to them.