Was Jon Frum ‘John from America’?

As I have said in a previous post on the Jon Frum cult found on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, there is great disagreement on both the origins of the cult and the identity of Jon Frum.  One particularly tantalising version has it that the name ‘Jon Frum’ came from a misunderstanding when a US serviceman who introduced himself as ‘John from America’ was misunderstood to be named ‘Jon Frum’.  When I was on Tanna in April I stumbled on a diary extract that shed a little light on the matter. Continue reading

Cargo cult in Vanuatu | Vlad Sokhin, photojournalist

Cargo cult in Vanuatu | Vlad Sokhin, photojournalist.

The link above is to the blog of a photojournalist who has recently travelled to Sulphur Bay to photograph the Jon Frum movement.

I was interested in his opinion that the Jon Frum cult won’t be around for much longer.  I asked him why he thought that, and his response is interesting (see the comments on his page). Continue reading

Conversions and Diversions: Unity in Christ

View of the new stream at Sulphur Bay from Jonathan's villiage

Of the miracles that I have heard of surrounding Sulphur Bay and the breaking of the Jon Frum movement, I wonder whether Maliwan’s conversion wasn’t the greatest.  But that’s at the end of the story.  The story begins on a Taiwanese fishing boat in the 1990s.

Continue reading

Streams of Living Water

Sulphur Bay

In its heyday, the Jon Frum cult attracted thousands of people to its ceremonies.  Today I am told that only a few hundred attend.  The way that that has happened is all to God’s glory, and I will tell it as best as I know.  I will begin in this post with some of the more spectacular events related to fresh water in Sulphur Bay, the centre of the movement. Continue reading

Flags and Stones – Jon Frum

Mt. Yasur, Tanna's live volcano

Truth and myth are indistinguishable when it comes to the origins and doctrines of the Jon Frum movement on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.  The members of the cult themselves are in disagreement and anthropologists have been left scratching their heads.  David Iou, director of the Presbyterian discipleship workers on Tanna told me the story late one evening as we lay in our bunks. Continue reading