On February 28,2019, Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat called on all churches to have more open-air crusades around Port Vila as he believed this would help in combating crime.
Minister Napuat also explained that the decrease in the number of crusades in recent years has caused a lot of criminal activities, increase in marital issues and loss of respect for elders and authorities.
In response to the Minister’s call, Pastor Shem Tema, Secretary General (SG) of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) stated that he agreed with the Minister as Vanuatu is a nation founded on Melanesian values and Christian principals.
He said churches are happy to plan continuous crusades, saying crusades are not all about making noise but it is the belief that people have, it is God who will inspire people who listen to the crusades to change this nation.
The SG also mentioned that if people believe in God then they should do things that please Him to raise their standard in His word. If people live by His word and do things that please Him, they would make better decisions in life and therefore stay away from criminal activities.
The pastor if everyone regards their neighbour as a brother or sister, there wouldn’t be any wrongdoing.
Pastor Mipi Ayong from the Ifira Presbyterian Church, on the other hand told the 96 Buzz FM’s Coffee and Controversy team that he discourages open air crusades as he does not really see it as an avenue to fight crime.
Pastor Ayong explained that a lot of times certain church groups go out there and start of by talking about keeping away from bad stuff but later on go into doctrine promotion and increasing their congregation members rather than actually preaching the good news.
He said when a crusade is performed, the pastor leading the crusade must understand that he or she is speaking to a mixed crowd and not to his or her congregation as everyone has different beliefs and sometimes this can cause arguments.
The Presbyterian pastor went on further and related the word crusade to the original crusaders in the ancient times who went around Europe killing people to promote themselves in the name of God as they claimed.
Pastor Ayong suggested that the VCC should set out some guidelines for everyone to follow when carrying out open air preaching and further suggested that having a mixture of pastors from different churches as part of a crusade would be a good idea.
Pastor Adam Quai of the Saralokambu Churches of Christ on West Ambae applauded Minister Andrew Napuat on his call for more open-air crusades however he pointed out that even though preaching the good news is a way to reduce crime, the first good teachings should start at home and be given by the parents.
The Lombenben volcanic disaster evacuee explained that if a child is brought up right, he or she shall become a good citizen and by doing so, they shall be able to understand and better absorb the good news to keep them on the right track.
Apart from the impacts of the good news used as a weapon to fight crime, people also need to understand that when the sound is too loud, it is noise pollution.
Sources within the Port Vila Municipal Council explained that under CAP 40, Control of Nocturnal Noise states: “No person shall within the town limits of Port Vila or Luganville and within 2 kilometres of the said limits between the hours of 9 o'clock in the evening and 5 o'clock of the following morning sing, shout, play a musical instrument, sound a motor horn except when necessary to avoid an accident, or make any other unreasonable noise so as to cause annoyance to the inhabitants of the said town.
“Any person who acts in contravention of the provisions of this Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction thereof shall be liable to a fine not exceeding VT5,000”.
Pastor Ayong spoke along similar lines and stated that God is not deaf and He hears our prayers no matter how quiet we are.
He added there is no need to scream and shout on stage when the sound system is already loud enough to carry the preaching. He also hinted that apart from preaching loudly, handing out pamphlets and arranging with TVL or Digicel to send out good news texts are other alternatives to sharing God’s word.