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Pohnpei Part 4 - Christian Endeavor

by Dr. Dave Coryell, Executive Director


I hope you have enjoyed and have been informed by reading about my extraordinary July Christian Endeavor journey to Pohnpei! In my first blog I focused on my travel and the land of Pohnpei. My second blog was a peek into the people and culture of that land. Blog three looked at the church and what I experienced there. Those blogs set the stage for you to more thoroughly understand C.E. in Pohnpei, which is what I will be looking at in this final blog.


CURRENTLY

C.E. can be found in fifty-one Pohnpeian churches, twenty-nine of which are on the island proper or main Pohnpeian island. The other twenty-two churches are spread across the Pacific and mainland U.S. Every person desiring ordination as a pastor must come before an ordination board. The first question always asked to ordination candidates is, “Are you a member of Christian Endeavor in your local church?” A NO answer invites the person to exit the room. A YES answer allows the questioning to continue. The church recognizes pastoral candidates that learn C.E.’s principles and attempt to live them out as the kind of people they desire to serve as their pastors. Each church elects both male and female Christian Endeavor Leadership as the girls and boys meet separately.

Beyond local church C.E. meetings, C.E. Pohnpei promotes three annual events:

  1. Worship celebrations that take place in local churches on the Sunday closest to February 2 to thank God for the founding of Christian Endeavor on this day in 1881.

  2. They encourage an event in September to bring in the new school year.

  3. A combined two day event is held in November on the weekend closest to November 25. November 25, 1905 marks the day Christian Endeavor was brought to Pohnpei by Sictus Jugenschmidt, a German missionary with the Liebenzeller Missionary movement.

The President of C.E. Pohnpei is Wanparon Bethwel Henry (“Wanparon” is the Pohnpeian word for pastor). Wanparon Henry is eighty years old but has a brilliantly sharp mind. The Pohnpeian culture holds the elderly in high esteem. He will likely hold this office until he is physically unable to do so. Fortunately, each church elects a C.E. Vice President. This, combined with Wanparon Henry’s recognition that equipping and adjusting C.E. to today’s culture, gives C.E. the potential of a bright future on this island.


Wanparon Bethwel Henry is pictured second from the right.

THE FUTURE

I needed to visit Pohnpei and get to know the people and their customs before further steps could be taken. Now that I have visited, the leadership has already invited me to return and train their people. This is a great honor. The time and expense involved is certainly a hurdle; however, I see importance in connecting with a part of the world involved with C.E. for one hundred fourteen years, even after not receiving training for the last thirty. I am hopeful that I can return to Pohnpei in March 2020. At the same time, I hope I can visit C.E. leadership in a few other places.


CHALLENGES

C.E. exists in the FSM state of Kosrae and Chuuk. C.E. also exists in the Marshall Islands. Since all FSM states speak different languages, joint training events never take place for anything. The government functions in English to unite the states but all the people use their native tongue to regularly communicate. The other challenge is that the United Island Hopper runs every other day. Stopping at Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae and the Marshall Islands would be a minimum twelve day commitment while only providing one full day for relationship building and possibly training events. Also, like Pohnpei, it will take a first visit before the possibility of a training event will be offered.


ENCOURAGEMENT

By God’s grace, we are beginning a strategy to reach out to all the islands that need encouragement and C.E. training while we also mobilize training efforts for the other four C.E. world regions. In the meantime, I am encouraged that C.E. Pohnpei is in the process of applying for National Union status which can be granted to people groups within countries.


I hope you have enjoyed learning about C.E. Pohnpei!