Niko Sopepa, Long-term Volunteer
How would you describe the mission of our partner in Fiji?
The St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Suva, Fiji is an independent church whose members are mostly expatriates and university students from the Pacific region and around the world.
The church was founded by Scottish settlers in 1883. In the past twenty five years the island of Fiji has undergone four coups. In the last two coups St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church stood as a pillar of hope for all citizens of Fiji as church leaders and people from various denominations and faith worshiped and prayed for peace and stability in the country. Today St. Andrew’s continue to serve as a beacon of hope, peace, and justice for citizens of Fiji and the many Pacific islanders who worship there.
How do you fit into their mission?
As the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, I have the responsibility of representing their voices in the Fiji Council of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Church. There are imperative social issues both in Fiji and around the Pacific that need to be addressed. To be able to spearhead or support these issues in the two main ecumenical bodies of the region (FCC & PCC) is of great importance. Issues like the massacre and over mining in West Papua (also known as Irian Java in Indonesia) and colonialism of Maohi Nui (Tahiti/ French Polynesia). St. Andrew’s has members who comes from these island countries and their voice and plea needs to be heard and addressed.
What led you to engage in this calling?
My passion both for God’s work and the love I have for the people of the Pacific/Oceania of which I am one.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
What are some of the challenges facing the people of Fiji, our partner, or yourself?
Fiji is going through some very tough political transition. Last month a new constitution was enacted and some people (most especially native Fijians) do not the like it. Next year Fiji will go to the poll after seven years and all hopes and prayers is that Fiji return to democracy after the military overthrew the government in 2006.
Which books have influenced your understanding of your country, work, or theology (choose 3-6)?
- Neles Tebay, West Papua: The Struggle for Peace with Justice
- Carmel Budiardjo, West Papua: The Obliteration of a People
- Sir Paul Reeves, Tomasi Rayalu Vakatora, and Brij Vilash Lal, The Fiji Islands Towards a United
- Future: Report of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission, 1996