Suva ministry gets intense
Well if there's one word I can use to describe our time in Suva it would be ‘intense’.
It's amazing how much you can cram into such a short amount of time, but by the grace of God and the organisational skills of our amazing leaders that's exactly what we managed to do. We faced many challenges, new experiences and learnt a lot about how God is working in the lives of the people in Suva.
Tuesday was the start of our ministry in Suva. We split into two groups and visited the slums. The plan for the day was to help pick up rubbish, then after lunch to go around and visit with people and hopefully share the gospel with them. It was a totally different world. Lots of tiny little houses, built closely together in amongst the mud and water. We got stuck in and started clearing out the rubbish, but there was so much that by the end we felt quite discouraged as we seemed to have made little difference.
But things changed during the second part of the afternoon. We were blown away by the joy and hospitality of the people who lived there. They were so happy to invite us in to their homes to talk and many of them knew God and were thankful to him for what little they had. It was a very humbling experience; it was so encouraging to see the love of God in their hearts. I think we all learnt we need to work on finding contentment in him alone and not in earthly possessions.
Over the next three days we split into three groups and rotated through a variety of different ministries. These included school/kindy groups, prisons, orphanages, a mosque visit and a visit to an amazing place called Homes of Hope (a refuge for young mothers and victims of sexual abuse). Each brought a different challenge but also encouraged us in some way and taught us a valuable lesson. The school visits were always lots of fun and tested our on-the-spot thinking. At first the prisons were quite daunting, but totally different from what we were expecting. The people inside were truly transformed and so solid in their relationship with God (many had come to know him through being in prison and were so grateful for that). And words can't even describe Homes of Hope. We got down and dirty in the mud, working hard to clear land for them. It was so satisfying to be able to help in such a practical way, but what God is doing through the people that work there is nothing short of miraculous. It is a beautiful place, with beautiful people where the love and power of God is evident.
We finished up in Suva with a rest day on Saturday, and then headed off after church on Sunday for Nadi. We experienced many things and learnt so much that it is impossible to describe it in such a limited amount of space. But God truly is a God of all peoples and all nations. God Bless!!
How God worked through sickness
Before our Suva experience we all separated into homestays for five days.
My group in Raki Raki busily worked in the local Methodist school sorting and organising their library. It's a relatively small library with about five shelves but with well over 1000 books that we were able to sort into fiction, non- fiction and numerous sub-headings under that.
It was hard work at times but I think we are all just thankful for the opportunity God gave us to really practically share his love and bless the school in this way. While being there we were also able to spend time with the kids at recess and lunch, getting to know them a bit and teaching them songs and learning some from them too. We were also blessed to have a little "assembly" put on for us by the school to say thanks and I think we all felt the genuine gratitude for the work we'd done.
Two days later we went to two churches where our very own John Baten preached at the first one and then the local Pastor James, who we were staying with, preached at the other in blocks of English and then Hindi. It was fantastic to sing songs and praises to our God with our brothers and sisters there and to share in fellowship! It's an awesome feeling to be in a totally different culture in another country with people so different to us. Yet we felt so at home and welcomed as one church united under Jesus. Our God is a God who made the whole universe and has no problem getting us over cultural barriers or anything else!
As for news from other homestays, when I first started writing this we had just heard from the village group that 6 of our 10 people there were sick with a stomach bug or something like that along with several of the Fijians too. So we are thankful for your prayers for their recovery and we would appreciate prayer for health for the rest of our trip too. We've already seen so clearly that God is working here with us in so many different ways. I'm sure that all your prayers have had an impact on this too and so I want to say thank you from the whole team for all the support we are receiving from home!
I'd like to end by sharing just two of the ways that I've seen God working here on this mission " glory to Him!
While in Lautoka we had a day of walk-up evangelism, my group of about 6 of us decided to sing songs in a local park to attract some interested onlookers that we could talk to. We first planned to go to the local police station to check it was okay to sing in the park " no problems there. On the way to the park we ran into a man, who greeted us and introduced himself " his name was Misivi. We were instantly weary as we'd found from past experiences that most people that greet you first are usually trying to get or sell something. But we chatted to him for a while and then invited him to join us as we sang. He turned out to be just a seeking guy that I'm sure God sent to us as we spent a couple of hours singing (while he listened), stopping and chatting and singing some more. During that time we explained a few Bible verses that he looked at in a gospel of Luke that we gave him and before we left him he told us that one of his two goals in life was to be part of God's family! " We explained how he could do that and prayed for him too. Praise God!
Thanks for reading and all your prayers and support!
Moce! (bye in Fijian)
This blog was written by Miriam van Delden and Simon Holmes. To check out the other Bula Blogs written by this year’s Year 13 mission team, click here.