Profile Source: Wallace Revels
Introduction / History
Christmas Island is an island territory of Australia located 1600 miles northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth. It has a population of 1500 residents, none of which are indigenous, who live in a number of settlement areas on the northern tip of the island. Most of the residents are of Chinese descent with small groups of Europeans and Maylans living there as well. English is the official language but many other languages are heard among the residents. (1) (3)
The island's geographic location and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of restricted isolation amongst its flora and fauna, which is of significant interest to scientists and naturalists. More than sixty percent of the island is designated as a National Park and there are large areas of primary rainforest. (1)
For centuries, Christmas Island's isolation and rugged coasts provided natural barriers to settlement. British and Dutch navigators first included the island on their charts in the early seventeenth century. Captain William Mynors of the East India Ship Company vessel, the Royal Mary, named the island when he arrived on Christmas Day in 1643. (3)
He was unable to land, however, and it was not until 1688, when the English buccaneering ship Cygnet arrived under Captain Swan, that the first recorded landing took place. Britain annexed the island in June of 1888 in order to exploit its natural resources. Phosphate has been mined there since the late 1800s. Britain briefly lost control of Christmas to the Japanese during World War II but regained it shortly thereafter. Britain transferred control to Australia in 1958. (3)
Where are they Located?
Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean 1600 miles to the northwest of Australia.
What are Their Lives Like?
Christmas Island experiences a tropical equatorial climate with wet and dry seasons. The wet season is from December to April when the island comes under the influence of the north-west monsoons. During the rest of the year, the southeast trade winds bring slightly lower temperatures and humidity with much less rain. (3)
Tropical cyclones occasionally pass close to the island during the monsoon season, bringing strong winds, rain, and rough seas. Since settlement, no cyclone has been recorded passing directly over the island. Most of the island's rain falls between November and May. February and March are usually the wettest months. (3)
Because of the oceanic influence, the relative humidity does not vary seasonally as much as rainfall. Humidity usually ranges between 80 - 90%. Temperatures on the island vary little from month to month. The average daily maximum temperature reaches a high of 82 F in April and the average daily minimum temperature falls to 72 F in August. (3)
Phosphate mining and tourism are the only economic activities on Christmas Island. The Australian government announced in 2001 the plans to build a space launch center on the island but no development work has started. (3)
Christmas Island has GSM telephone service, three radio stations, and around 500 internet connections. Some places on the island receive satellite TV broadcasts from an Australian service. (2)
Many festivals and celebrations are held on the island due to the mix of cultures and religions found there. Several important items to keep in mind when visiting there include removing shoes before entering houses or places of worship, dress modestly, refrain from touching a person's head, and remember that religious dietary restrictions may be in force in certain locations. (3)
What are Their Beliefs?
Christmas Island has a mixture of races, languages, and religious beliefs. Despite their differences, the community works in harmony, freely sharing and borrowing from each other's cultures. Religious tolerance is evident from the number of Chinese temples-Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and others as well as a Christian church, Muslim Mosque and a Baha'i Centre. Many religious and cultural festivals are observed including Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, and Hari Raya. The cultural diversity of the island has resulted in an adaptation and blending of ideas. (3)
What are Their Needs?
With reportedly high levels of religious tolerance, multitude of blended holiday celebrations, and blurring of the lines between the beliefs systems on the island, Christmas Island needs a clear, precise, and persistent presentation of the Bible. Biblical Christianity should be preached and taught in the Christian Churches, then branched out into the communities. Local converts must be discipled and prepared in order to take the gospel into the other communities where the false and/or blended religions are practiced.
* Pray for God to give an opportunity for Biblical Christianity to be proclaimed on this island.
* Pray for local converts to be prepared for ministry unto their neighbors.
* Pray for their protection and provision while they engage in spiritual warfare.
* Pray for God to raise up a people who will take the gospel message to neighboring islands and into Australia.
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