Lectionary Selection: Genesis 28:10–19a
Prayers for Fiji:
Ever present God, how strange it is that we often enter unknown land, and to our surprise we find you there. In these unfamiliar grounds we erect our places of worship, our Bethels, and there seek your face. Like Jacob, we here in Fiji often stumble upon unfamiliar grounds and with passion and theological justifications we void the ground of your presence, only to find that you are there. In these unfamiliar grounds we discriminate, hate, kill, corrupt justice and every system that sustains the well-being of this country’s citizens.
Therefore Lord we pray from our Bethels that you open our eyes to see your presence, so that we may love, accept others, and exercise justice and peace for the good of the people in this country and for your glory. We commit unto you the upcoming elections in September. May the people we elect into government work in harmony and not become indifferent to the problems faced by the people of this country.
Omnipresent God, we commit into your able hands the suffering of the people of West Papua, Maohi Nui (Tahiti), New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, American Samoa, and Guam, who are also fighting to be free from colonial rule. May their tears and crying be heard by you and your people around the world, so we in faith and love may stand in solidarity with them.
O God, these are the unfamiliar grounds that we chose to become our Bethels. And in them we kneel to worship and commit our prayers to you. Hear us in Jesus name, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Fiji:
The Fiji Council of Churches and Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education, and Advocacy (ECREA) jointly organized a Musical Concert for the youth of Fiji. The participants were from different Christian denominations. For the first time in the history of Christianity in Fiji, all churches joined to worship God. The concert was called “Reconciliation and Resurrection Music Concert.” Given the current political situation in Fiji, where racial and religious factions exist among our communities and parliament, youth witnessed to the nation that differences are not meant to separate us, rather they are opportunities for sharing and learning from one another.
Also present were the church leaders who offered concrete support in organizing this concert. The churches represented were the Methodist Church of Fiji, the Catholic Church of Fiji, the Presbyterian Church of Fiji (of which I am the moderator), the Coptic Orthodox, the Salvation Army, Pentecosts, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Anglican Church (Episcopal), and many more.
The concert was a success, with no preaching, but rather plain messages of reconciliation, justice, and peace. It was a time of welcoming and recognizing the otherness of those who we often think do not belong in our circles. These messages were carried forward through the lyrics of songs, the action choruses, dances, and skits or plays. Free foods were served to the participating youths, and the homeless of Suva City were no exception as they joined in the dancing and were also fed by the committee.
Global Ministries plays a very important role in this reconciliation work. I represent Global Ministries in Fiji and the Pacific, and chair the Ecumenical Framework Committee that is working on researching a way forward for our Christian churches. The majority of Fiji’s populations are Christians, so if we can pave a way forward for the churches, then we can play an effective part in the development of the country. We are also considering with love our brothers and sisters from the Hindu, Muslim, Baha’i, and Confucian faiths. The overarching theme of our reconciliation work is “The Image of God,” when this is recognized by all, then we should expect the justice of God to freely flow through us to the community we serve. Please continue to pray for Fiji and the Pacific Islands. Thank you for your generous support and prayers that make this ministry and these programs possible.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Nico Tapaeko)
More information on Fiji:
Global Ministries Missionary in Fiji:
Niko Tapaeko, member of Ekalesias Kelisiano Tuvalu (Congregational) Church, Fiji, serves with the Pacific Conference of Churches. He is pastor at the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Suva.