Walkie-talkie ministry takes off in Marshall Islands
Ministry Leaders Raston and Jewel Lanwe find an unusual way to share God’s Word.
Each day, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, God’s Word is broadcast in a singular way—by walkie-talkie. This service is an outreach of The Salvation Army Imiej Corps and its Ministry Leaders Raston and Jewel Lanwe.
Just getting to Imiej requires some doing: first traveling to the Republic of the Marshall Islands far out in the Pacific Ocean and then chartering a boat to the island of Imiej in the Jaluit Atoll. This remote island, part of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division, has a population that fluctuates between 60–80 residents.
Remote indeed: for some perspective, the distance between the Marshall Islands and Hawaii is 2,392 miles; the distance between the Marshall Islands and Australia is 3,364 miles.
“It is a difficult place to live and serve, but that doesn’t stop these pastors,” said Major Stephen Ball, Marshall Islands Coordinator for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division. “They are remarkable servants of the Lord [who] work faithfully to teach the truths of the Bible and make disciples of Jesus.”
The Lanwes recently purchased two small hand-held radios.
“[Walkie-talkies] are very popular on our atoll since there is very little phone service available,” Jewel Lanwe said. “At first we used them to keep in touch with each other, find out how people were doing and to share stories.”
Lanwe then related what happened one day as she was reading Ecclesiastes.
“I found the verse that says, Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for (Eccl. 12:13 GNT). After I reread it again, I felt the Holy Spirit and I prayed, ‘God, if this is what you want me to do, I will do it.’”
Lanwe felt the Holy Spirit calling her to use the walkie-talkies for a greater purpose. When she spoke to her husband about it, he said: “We may not visit and pray with these people every day, but we will use this walkie-talkie and we will reach them with God’s Word.”
The Lanwes starting praying on the walkie-talkie daily at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“After a while, everyone on Imiej wanted to join our prayer meeting, so they all went to Jabor [a nearby larger town] and bought their own walkie-talkies,” Lanwe said. “I see God present every day and we feel his blessing as we sing and pray together.”
Originally from Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, the Lanwes left their families behind when they came to Imiej to serve as Ministry Leaders—soldiers who are in charge of the corps. Raston sings and plays keyboard, and Jewel’s creative gifts include timbrels, singing, devotion in motion and dance.
Ball acknowledged the Lanwes’ ministry.
“It is remarkable to see the Lord working through the ministry of this young Salvationist couple in such a remote place,” Ball said. “Through this new outreach effort they are able to bring the Word of God to people they cannot easily reach on neighboring islands. God is blessing the work of sharing God’s love through this radio Bible study that they lead each day.”