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. The Marshallese 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 felt called 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. Elisa served again the following year as the second grade teacher.
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 English-language tracts 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 Raian Villacruel, then-principal of Ebeye school, with the idea. Her excitement grew as it merged with Villacruel’s own dream to produce Christian literature in the Marshallese language.
After much discussion and prayer, Villacruel, together with Rene Suhot, pastor of the Ebeye Church, chose “Why I Go to Church on Saturday” as the first GLOW tract to be translated. About 97 percent of the Marshallese population is Christian, but less than 1 percent is Adventist. This imparts an important evangelism work for missionaries such as Elisa who volunteers at the three Adventist schools in addition to the churches in the Marshall Islands.
The biggest task was finding a translator. After many months of praying and searching, help was finally found. Kamlitha Bulles — an Adventist member of the Ebeye Seventh-day Adventist Church — happened to be in Texas at the same time as 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 $2,000 in a little more than a year through her faithful personal savings. In July 2021, the 23,900 GLOW tracts in Marshallese reached the capital city of Majuro and the tiny island of Ebeye.
“It is my prayer that many will be led to the complete loving truth of the Lord,” said Desirée. This tract is in honor of the Lord, as my daughter Elisa listened to His calling to her heart for mission.” Desirée shared that she prayed that the story God is telling through Elisa will “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.
Pastor Selvin Intong and the youth on Majuro distributed the tracts as they invited households in their community to their Vacation Bible School.
Pastor Alex Riano shared the tract with the king of Kwajalien when he visited his home this summer. “Irooj” (“King”) Michael Kabua translated the tract back into English to Riano and was delighted to discover that Saturday is the Sabbath day!
And on Ebeye, church members are distributing the GLOW tracts with their neighbors at home and colleagues at work. Bulles, now back on Ebeye, said, “When I return to Texas next month, I will distribute them to all the Marshallese there. I will try my best so that all the Marshallese people will read them."
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.
— Gracelyn Lloyd is the communications director for the Guam-Micronesia Mission (GMM) and editor of the Tropical Isles. The original version of this article was published on the GMM website.