One Friday afternoon, John Robin was walking along the beach on Hiu Island, in the north of Vanuatu. To his surprise, he saw a fish lying on the beach. It was strange because the fish was alive and unhurt. Quickly, he picked it up and went to show it to his new friend, John Joseph, to see if he had seen anything like this.
Joseph was new to the island; he was visiting and had no place to stay when Robin invited him into his home. Joseph told Robin he was an Adventist from the Hitraty Seventh-day Adventist Church in Melemat Village, on Efate Island. Since Joseph had no relatives on Hiu, Robin treated him as his brother.
That Friday afternoon, as the sun was setting, the Robin family gathered for worship. Their new friend Joseph had taught them wonderful messages from the Bible. That evening, they learned more; that was how the Robin family learned about the Sabbath.
Later that evening, they saw a bright light shining inside the Robins’ home. It was so bright. They were all scared.
“The light was bright like a Coleman Light [a common kerosene, gas, or battery lantern brand],” John Robin says. He walked into the house and was surprised to discover his old light was somehow working again. It had not been working for some time. He picked it up, and while he was looking at it, the light dimmed and went off.
John Robin took the light outside to the group, and they discovered the lamp had no battery. They tried to turn it on again but could not. Joseph then told Robin this was a sign—a miracle.
Joseph stayed with the Robin family for some time, and in 2014, he took John Robin to his family in Port Vila. They traveled by ship to the island of Santo and continued on by another ship to Port Vila. While there, Joseph invited Robin to an evangelistic meeting held in a sports venue at Freshwota. A lot of people attended each night. They sat on the grass to listen to the international speaker. At the end of the meeting, there was a big baptism. The candidates dressed in white clothes, followed a long line to the water ponds, and were baptized.
Around 3,000 people were standing for baptism. As Robin was watching, he felt God was talking to him. He thought about his family, the fish he saw on the beach, and the light that Friday evening. He decided to be baptized. Quietly, he walked from the group with which he and Joseph were sitting to the baptism pond. Joseph did not notice when he left.
Robin cried while walking into the pond. The pastors noticed he was crying and asked where he lived. He told them he came from Hiu.
After the baptism, Robin was standing with the other candidates, and that was when Joseph found out he was baptized. He ran over, hugged him, and cried.
After some time in Port Vila, Robin went back to his island. Someone sent him 60 new Bibles, so he decided to give the Bibles to the people of the island. It was a new thing to give out free new Bibles.
There were other denominations, so Robin asked permission to give out Bibles. While he was handing out Bibles inside one of the churches, the chief sent his men to stop him, so Robin walked out of the church with the rest of the Bibles, and the chief told him “Stop taking food from the garden” because Robin “disrespected” him by giving Bibles to people.
John Robin and his wife and children struggled to find food elsewhere. At times, they would go hungry. He would look for wild yams and wild fruits to feed his family. They had to clear new land and plant new gardens.
After a month, a ship named Kawale came to the island. The crew came ashore with cargo. Robin was surprised when a crew member told him he had 15 bags of rice on the ship. Robin took the rice bags home, and together with his family, they thanked God for providing them with food. To this day, Robin still does not know who sent the bags of rice on that ship to them, but his family had enough food until their new gardens were ready. Robin now looks after a church on Hiu Island.