Lectionary Selection: Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52
Prayers for Fiji:
Move our feet to newer grounds, drop our anchors in new waters, and bring us to new businesses every day, Lord. May our hands find every existence of injustice and overturn them to release the treasures and pearls so often oppressed by the privileged few. May your Kingdom come, and surround every act of mission we employ. In Christ Jesus’ name. Amen.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-45
Attending the UCC General Synod and DOC General Assembly this year opened my eyes to the similarities that exist in mission worldwide. The rallying call from pulpits and resolution after resolution aims at the heart of God’s Kingdom. The writer of Matthew’s gospel gives us a definition of the Kingdom of God that resounds in what we do every day. We - like the farmer, the merchant, the fisherman - search daily for things that provide us with a living, a life. And when we find what produces the abundance of life, we shift anchorage, to use a Pacific/Oceania terminology.
As we prepare for Easter this year, we cannot jump into a spirit and atmosphere of celebration and thanksgiving for the grace that has brought us salvation without acknowledging the pain and suffering around us. We cannot prostrate at the foot of the cross without looking up to see the viciousness of the nails that tore through our Savior’s flesh. How then can we worship God freely and truly when vicious human desire tears through humanity as a whole?Read more
The Pacific Conference of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Read more
The 2016 academic year at the Pacific Theological College in Fiji started on January 25th. The Pacific Theological College is a regional seminary operated by churches from Seventeen different countries in the Pacific region.Read more
Global Ministries is grateful to Week of Compassion and One Great Hour of Sharing for their rapid response to this emergency. Your gifts to these special offerings make it possible to respond within hours of receiving these updates from international partners and mission personnel. As of this posting relief funds have already been approved and sent to provide urgent assistance to the people of Fiji on behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.Read more
Lectionary Selection:John 17:6-19
Prayers for Fiji:
God of the moana (Ocean in Polynesian language), we the people of the moana sail our canoes into your holy presence, bringing our petitions to you. We are suffering as the moana, once our home and livelihood, destroys our lands and homes, bringing to us an uncertain future. Many people around the world push climate change to the back of their minds as they live comfortably in continents. But we are suffering as the moana continues to rise and we see evidences of it every day of our lives. Our lives splash like waves in search for life as our children look to us with questioning eyes of what their future holds. Our lives call and demand that we become one in this search. We float our hearts in unity and allow it to garland the moana in attempts to protect it. We are people of this world and our hearts, longings, and needs spring from the longings and needs of our moana people. May our lives sanctify our lands and moana so that the people around us may see you not only through us, but also through the longings and needs of our surroundings. Tie our hearts together and may the world see that in our smallness, we matter. Everything comes from you and at your feet we land our canoes. Help us God, in the name of our mediator and fellow voyager Jesus Christ, amen.
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.Read more
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.