How we can learn from others
I hope we find you guys safe and well.
The midday heat here in Fiji is stifling but there is a refreshingly cool breeze as I sit on the crest of a hill at Nakasawa Vision College in Pacific Harbour with a 180-degree ocean view.
We arrived here by bus on Tuesday morning after five days at the Sabeto Christian Camp in Sabeto Valley near Nadi. Our time spent there was incredible and I’ve just been blown away by how evidently I can see God at work as we relate to the Fijians but also within our Year 13 community.
The first thing I noticed as we travelled from the airport to the camp was the openness of the people - they welcomed us with smiling faces and literally dropped whatever they were doing and yelled “Bula!” as our noisy bus drove by. It’s the same everywhere you go and I’d have to say one of the biggest differences between Fiji and Australia. It's a great way of showing God's love and something I think we will all try and adopt when we get home.
On Friday, there was a joint youth group evening at the Namaka Brethren Assembly where we also went to church on Sunday. The whole congregation was just on fire for God! Their passion and enthusiasm was awe-inspiring and really encouraging. Music is a massive part of Fijian life and I love it! You hear it everywhere and it played a big part in both the youth service and church on Sunday morning. It’s also a great way for us to relate with the Fijians and be encouraged by one another. Seeing the differences between church services here and in Australia has really made us think about how we worship at home. Understanding that the God we worship in Australia is the same God that the Fijians worship gave me great assurance of God’s bigger plan and how I, as an individual, am just a small part of that.
On Saturday we visited Treasure House Orphanage. We were able to help the kids out by going to the markets and buying them essentials like soap, shampoo, nappies, fruit and veggies. Bonding with the kids was well worth it, to see the joy on their faces as we shared songs about Jesus with one another.
Visiting Denarau Island, a popular tourist destination, was another serious eye-opener. The Fiji of dirt roads, unkempt vegetation and corrugated iron houses was over a 20 metre bridge from perfectly paved roads, pristine box hedges, lines of palm trees, golf courses, multi-storey glass hotel complexes and million dollar yachts. Even though I was taken aback, I later realised I had the wrong attitude by judging the Westerners staying in these places because tourism supports Fiji as a nation in a huge way. Looking back, it’s jut awesome to see how God has used that experience to convict me of my selfishness and greed.
Our two-night home stay at Nakasawa was a massive encouragement, Mandy and I had a really positive experience, but others weren't as lucky. We were blessed with a family that welcomed us with open arms; we immediately felt like family and were just so blown away by their servant hearts.
There was both a Methodist and Catholic Church in our village (Biausevu) and both have church services every evening and morning prayers and devotionals every day at 4am. When I saw how they commit their whole lives to God, He really challenged me - I think we can definitely take a leaf out of their book.
After running scripture lessons and a chapel service at Nakasawa Vision College, I heard stories of how a student went home with tears of joy at how encouraged they were, seeing young people their age (us) sharing our faith and discussing God so openly. This was a massive encouragement to both me, and the rest of the team.
Although we rarely get to see the fruits of our ministry over here, on the odd occasion that we do it’s just awesome!
I’ve loved growing closer with my Year 13 brothers and sisters in Christ and seeing how God has been working within our team and equipping and enabling us to support one another. Sometimes some of us are feeling weak and are really struggling, but that is OK because others are blessed with strength, words of encouragement and the ability to comfort.
Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers. We are definitely seeing them being answered. Praise God! Please continue to be praying for the renewed strength of the team to overcome tiredness and sickness, for more opportunities to share the good news of Jesus without hesitation and for those who we will be ministering to - that their hearts and minds would be opened to receive God’s Word. Please pray that we would be continually reminded of the grace that Jesus has shown us so that we can shine God’s light and continue making Him the focus of all we do.
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