Serving for the long haul
We’re over half way through our Fiji mission trip for 2014 and what an amazing adventure it’s been.
I have particularly been encouraged to have the privilege to come to Fiji as a leader this year, to see first-hand the long term effects of this short term mission, and the partnership Year 13 has acquired with the local Fijians.
This is my second time to Fiji with Year 13. In 2010 I came as a student, eager to serve God and his people in Fiji. This year my role is a little different, I am here to love, support and encourage the Year 13 students as they share the Gospel with the nominal culture of Fiji. Coming from a student to a leader has been an amazing experience with different challenges and highlights. In 2010 I was challenged to discover the best way to minister to a nominal culture, this year I have been challenged to serve the Year 13 students sacrificially. In 2010 my highlights consisted of the different activities we did such as going to Suva Men’s Prison, Homes of Hope (a women’s refuge) and Treasure House Orphanage. This year my highlights have been in building up relationships with the students, and being able to minister to them with understanding and empathy of what it’s like to be on mission with Year 13 for the first time.
It has been incredible to see the long term effects of the Year 13 short term mission to Fiji. Year 13 has been coming to Fiji for 7 years and each year has opened up more and more opportunities to serve God and his people in Fiji. We have had to expand the number of villages we visit for our Local Church Missions where students stay for a week in a village, running programs for children and youth, visitations, and training programs such as Leaders In Training.
This year I had the privilege to go to the village of Naimalavau which has had a long partnership with a member of the community Brother Lai. Due to this relationship more and more opportunities have been opening up every year in the village. Each day we ran a children’s program for 3 to 14 years olds in the afternoon with a youth program after dinner. I was particularly encouraged by the effort and love the students poured into these programs, brining “Jesus Beads” (beads of green, black, red, white and yellow, in which each bead stands for a different part of the gospel story- creation, sin, Jesus death, Jesus resurrection and heaven) for the students to make. Having this tangible reminder of the gospel was an incredible reminder to the students and it was so encouraging to see the Fijians reciting what they had learnt to our students on the last day.
Coming to Fiji for a second time with Year 13 has been an incredible experience and privilege that I have been blessed to have and I am very excited for the work that Year 13 is doing in Fiji and I look forward to seeing it’s future growth!
Shannon Bishop from Jannali Anglican Church, graduated from Year 13 in 2010 and is leading a Fiji mission team this year.