Pray with Fiji, February 4, 2024
Lectionary Selection: Mark 1:29-39
Prayers for Fiji
Let all creation praise the Lord
Blessed are you, Lord God,
Creator of all the heavens and all that fills the sky
Creator of vanua and moana and all that fills the Earth
Redeemer of the world
and restorer of all relationships within
Sanctifier of our hearts and minds
Strengthener of our bodies and hands
We offer praise and glory alongside the voices of all creation
We praise you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Let all creation praise the Lord
From The Season of Creation: Let Justice and Peace Flow,
2023 Pacific Conference of Churches prayer resource.
Mission Moment from Fiji
Who were the demons that Jesus cast out of those he ministered to? Were the “demons” agents of evil that took hold of their hosts, like in a horror movie? Maybe society at the time judged “demonic” those whose appearance or behavior was due to any malady they did not understand or know how to treat?
Perhaps the Gospel writers tried to convey how Jesus freed the hearts and minds of those he reached from the various “demons” of political, social, and religious bondage that “possessed” them. Surely, the demons Jesus contended with included the agents of the Roman Empire he resisted, the enforcers of law and social order he challenged, and the hypocritical religious authorities he questioned.
The church is called to carry out Jesus’ ministry of liberation and hope for those suffering worldwide today. Global Ministries partners with churches and ecumenical bodies that seek to heal communities by empowering those dispossessed of their agency. In the Pacific region, the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) in Fiji addresses many forms of possession that control and dehumanize the communities they serve.
One of the demons the PCC confronts is colonialism. In its programs, the PCC confronts the remaining colonial powers, like France, that refuse to relinquish sovereignty and control to the indigenous Pasifika lands and peoples they possess. In the PCC’s 12th General Assembly statement in November 2023, PCC member churches called for “the holistic Self-Determination of Kanaky, Maohi, West Papua, Bougainville, the Land now called Australia and other territories who seek liberation.”
The PCC also seeks to cast out the demons of global security. Rev. James Bhagwan, PCC General Secretary, has warned Pasifika communities against possession by big global powers in the name of regional “peace and security.” Just as Western nations exploited Pacific people for nuclear testing in the 1950s to win the Cold War, the US, China, and others vie for the allegiance of small island nations to leverage votes in the UN and project regional influence in an “Indo-Pacific Tug-Of-War.” Rev. Bhagwan recently preached, “The pressure on Pacific Island countries to choose sides in this “new cold war” is beginning to unravel the cords that bind our regional, sub-regional, and national political and social structures.”
The Pasifika community must also guard against the possession of the Pacific’s natural resources. Through its Climate Justice programs, the PCC strengthens the agency of Pacific communities to protect the environment and promote development and climate change solutions that meet their needs. For example, the PCC has warned small island nations against rich nations taking control of the oceans for deep-sea mining or monopolizing the terms for climate adaptation. At the COP28 international climate change conference in December 2023, PCC representatives worked with faith and civil society groups to urge world governments to support a “funded, fair, and fast fossil fuel phase-out,” prioritizing those in the Pacific who are most vulnerable but least responsible for the climate crisis.
Many demons of control and dehumanization possess the world. The PCC follows Jesus’ example in preaching a Gospel of freedom to cast off the various forces that seek to “possess” the Pasifika community.
Partners in Fiji