The Fiji Council of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Churches facilitated a church leader’s workshop at Nadave. It is a beautiful campus that overlooks the ocean. In the distance across the ocean are the islands of Bau and Viwa. When Christianity arrived in Fiji, the island of Viwa was used by the missionaries to pray and plan their mission. A few hundred meters from Viwa is the island of Bau, where the King of Fiji lived. Whenever the missionaries saw smoke rising from Bau, they knew cannibalism was taking place. So they would pray for Bau and in less than 5 years King Cakobau, who resided in Bau, accepted Christianity. His men, who were once fierce warriors and cannibals, helped the missionaries to penetrate into the interior of the main islands of Fiji, only this time without war clubs and spears.
This was the site chosen by the Fiji Council of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Churches to host a week-long workshop for the church focusing on the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan. The main question that was asked was, “Now that we have arrived safely to Canaan, where will we go from here?” The overarching theme was “How can we do church in a multi-religious country.” This was a challenge given to church leaders.
Since the inception of Christianity in this south sea land, churches have been divided for many reasons. One of the main reasons is differences in doctrine. The coming together of the churches in a workshop marks the breaking down of these divisive elements.
At the end of the workshop church leaders put together and signed a document now known as the “Nadave Covenant.” The Nadave Covenant stated that the churches have agreed to put aside their differences, come together as the body of Christ, and attend to issues pertaining to the greater good of Fiji as a nation. The church leaders also agreed that they will move beyond the four walls of church buildings into the various communities that exist in Fiji.
Although the issue of inter-faith strokes a sensitive nerve in some church leaders (especially conservative evangelicals) there are positive signs of future opportunities for inter-faith dialogue. The majority of the church leaders are native Fijians. To know that the call for religious tolerance and ethnic respect comes from these leaders bring hope to mission within the Fiji churches. But this is a totally different mission, one that focuses on dialogue and understanding the other rather than converting the other.
May the dreams and vision of Fiji’s current church leaders bring peace and stability in the country, all for the glory of God, and the betterment of Fiji.
Rev. Niko Tapaeko serves as a Long-term Volunteer with the Pacific Council of Churches located in Fiji. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.