Around the World: A baptism in ‘the hidden paradise’ of the South Pacific
FEATURE PHOTO (above): Members of the Nabouwalu Church of Christ…
Here, it’s really another world,” Christophe Zamord said of his new home, the South Pacific islands known as New Caledonia.
That’s where he and his wife, Adzoa, are nurturing a newborn church and hope to spread the Gospel among the islands’ 269,000 souls.
“The landscapes actually remind us of Scotland,” he said, “with majestic hills as far as the eye can see and small, winding streams lined with brittle stones.”
British explorer James Cook thought the same when he first spotted the islands in 1774 and named them in honor of Caledonia, the Latin name given to Scotland by the ancient Romans.
Now the islands, an overseas territory of France, are home to about 269,000 souls and no known Churches of Christ.
Robert Martin, a missionary who has planted Churches of Christ across the South Pacific, contacted Barry Baggott, a missionary to French-speaking nations, in 2009 about opportunities in New Caledonia.
“I have made trips or recruited others to make trips there ever since,” Baggott said. “There have been six baptisms so far, and studies continue with a number of other people whenever one of us makes the trip.”
The Zamords came to New Caledonia from another island — Guadeloupe, more than 9,300 miles away in the Caribbean Sea. The couple was an active part of a Church of Christ in Guadeloupe, also a territory of France. Christophe Zamord, a public school teacher, accepted a transfer to New Caledonia.
Arlin and Pamela Hendrix, longtime missionaries in Lyon, France, make regular trips to Guadeloupe and have worked with the Zamords.
“Christophe and Adzoa were a real plus for the church … providing leadership and zeal,” Arlin Hendrix said in an email from Guadeloupe. “They are greatly missed, and they are in the prayers of everyone as they try to meet the needs of the Christians in New Caledonia.”
Thirteen people attended the first worship service after the Zamords’ arrival in New Caledonia.
“We had the impression of having known each other for a long time,” Christophe Zamord said. “We ate a good meal together and learned some new songs.”
Two months later, “Sunday meetings are now regular and better-organized, even though we do not have a full-time minister,” Christophe Zamord told The Christian Chronicle. “The brethren have tasted how good it is when the church is able to meet to worship God as the body of Christ instead of everyone being in their little corner and complaining of isolation and discouragement.”
Distance remains a challenge, he added. Some of the believers live 250 miles away. Nonetheless, attendance is growing, and the church soon will have to arrange for a new meeting place, Christophe Zamord said.
“Any visit from brethren from the rest of the world will be warmly welcomed,” he said, “whether for a church mission or for a short vacation. The island is beautiful and has many souls to bring to the Lord.”
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