Solomon Islands Ministries Newsletter (Issue 1)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Solomon Islands Ministries - Beauty Among The Ruins

During World War 2 Solomon Islands was an important Allied supply and communication route between Australia, New Zealand and the US in the Pacific theatre of the war. The Battle of Guadalcanal was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan who occupied Guadalcanal and surrounding islands, which resulted in a strategic victory for the Allied forces that changed the course of the war.  While a significant victory for the region, this battle cost the lives of 7,000 Allied troops and 19,200 Japanese troops, with a staggering number of wounded on both sides, let alone the high cost paid by indigenous populations.  A permanent reminder of the impact of this six month battle is left in the ruins of 67 ships, over 1,200 aircraft and countless munitions that litter the ocean floor and countryside of the Solomon Islands.

On Boxing Day I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit the Vilu War Museum in western Guadalcanal where many of these WW2 ruins lie outdoors against the contrasting beauty of native tropical flora.  As I moved between the relics listening to the well-informed commentary from the museum owner's daughter-in-law, my mind was caught in the paradox of my surroundings.  I felt a sense of privilege being able to walk among these preserved pieces of history on the very land where this moment in history played out.  I felt a sense of awe and wonder being able to personally observe up close and touch these historic instruments of war.  I felt a deep sense of sadness at the number of lives lost as a direct result of these now decaying relics that have become an attraction for tourists.  Yet, at the same time I found myself distracted by the natural beauty that kept intruding upon our historic tour.  Between each of these twisted and aging wrecks grew some of the most stunning exotic flowers I have ever seen that stole my attention away from the heroes of this museum.  Interestingly enough, what once stood as powerful machines of destruction are now lying subject to the regenerative power of nature.

War inevitably leaves a scar upon our humanity that can take generations to heal.  Similarly, the everyday battles of life can also cause deep wounds and leave lasting scars.  Yet, despite the worst that humankind can inflict upon itself, there is a Creative Force at work in this world that brings healing and restoration to all of creation.  Throughout Scripture there is a common theme of restoration that is declared by the prophets (Isaiah 65:17), proclaimed by Jesus (Luke 4:18-19) and revealed in a vision to John (Revelation 21:3-5)...

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

God, in His grace and mercy, has been actively working since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to restore the beauty of His creation.  Within the paradox of my walk through the relics of WW2 on Boxing Day is a powerful reminder that even among the ruins there is beauty that cannot be extinguished.  Maybe this is a timely message for someone as we prepare to leave behind the year that has passed and enter into the year that is ahead.  

Look for the beauty among the ruins.  
Hold onto the promise of restoration.
God is making all things new!

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