Local witnessing in Fiji
Year 13 Class of 2012 have been on short-term mission in Fiji for three weeks now, and as we move into our final week before heading back to Australia I am in awe of the ways that God has been at work throughout this trip and constantly revealing his sovereignty and grace to us.
A passage that has been central to our short-term mission trip in Fiji is Philippians 2, where Paul speaks of Christ’s humility as the perfect example by which we are to shape our relationship with both God and others. With Christ’s humility and love as the foundation and driving force behind all aspects of our lives, an attitude of unity amongst God’s people is fostered, expressed in the first two verses:
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
This sense of unity and “being one in spirit and purpose” is something that I have richly experienced over the past six days in the town of Sigatoka, where a group of thirteen others and myself spent our Local Church Mission. Our purpose in going to Sigatoka (as well as the various other towns and villages visited by the rest of the team) was to work in partnership with a local church in providing outreach to the people of the area, equipping the church with strategies and tools to help grow and encourage their ministry, and to experience first-hand the Fijian culture and lifestyles during our homestays with local families. It certainly was a time of learning and growth, both spiritually and mentally, for the Fijians and us alike; however, as a team, we felt incredibly impacted by the church family in Sigatoka, and how their love of God and dedication to serving Him overflowed into a genuine love and willingness to serve one another.
From extending hospitality and generosity towards a group of young Australians to actively sharing the Gospel in rural settlements, the church family in Sigatoka let the encouragement of the Gospel and the joy of being united with Christ motivate their actions. It was not out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (v.3) but an understanding that we are one in Christ, irrespective of nationality, race, wealth or occupation.
As we visited the rural settlements, villages, and local school, it was fantastic to witness the impact that the Gospel was having on each of these places. In one instance, a woman in the settlement had received both physical and spiritual healing and after experiencing the power of Christ accepted Him as her saviour. It was awesome to see that as she came to know God more, the church family was there to help her grow in her faith and welcome her as a sister in Christ – motivated by the same love that God shows to us.
Jesus, and his obedience to God, is the ultimate demonstration of selflessness and humility for the glory of God. By God’s grace, we have fellowship with Him and through His Spirit we are transformed and renewed so that our attitude may be like that of Christ. This should give us such a joy and encouragement, spurring us on to be one in spirit and purpose, so that God may be glorified.
I have been extremely encouraged by the attitude of being united in Christ experienced during the Local Church Mission in Sigatoka, and I pray that it is something that God will continue to develop within the team not only during our last week in Fiji, but as we return to our families, churches and communities back in Australia.