HE SOUTH PACIFIC ENCOMPASSES MANY beautiful island nations. From the sunburned outback of Australia to the remote, jungle highlands of Papua New Guinea, and the warm tropical coasts of countries such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands, Seventh-day Adventist members have heard God’s call and have dedicated themselves to serving others in Christ’s name. Their visionary service has changed the lives of millions of people through outreach, medical services, and sharing the love of Jesus. Here are a few snapshots of people taking advantage of opportunities to build up God’s kingdom.
It’s a Calling
One couple dedicated to serving God and the people of Papua New Guinea is Steve and Kym Piez, originally from Australia, now making their home in Lae.
Steve and Kym began their adventure in a country that needed them: Steve as education director and Kym as country director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
Many people think their job is too difficult, too dangerous. What do they
“We enjoy what we do,” says Kym. “If you want adventure and you want something that will change your life, this is definitely going to be it.”
Steve adds, “Yeah, it is an adventure; it’s challenging. Sometimes you cry, but it’s fun and it’s a great adventure.”
Not far away is another man making a difference for the people of New Guinea. Local Goroka businessman Stainer Sapu has built two churches for the people of his village. The group has grown from six original members to almost 200, and he has big plans for the future.
“We want to establish a school here,” he states. “We have sent two teachers for training; they’re coming back and we’ll start a school here. A lot of kids here are unfortunate; a lot of their parents are not working. Many of their parents have died. These are the ones we want to take care of, and this is the dream we have. We want to bring those people in and share the love of Jesus.”
God has blessed the small local churches in the remote Papua New Guinea highlands with inspirational leaders and a vision for the future.
“We believe that if we work together as a group, a lot of people will come,” says Stainer. “As we’re united together we know that the Lord will bless us and use us to accomplish whatever He wants us to accomplish. And when the Lord comes, we’ll be happy to see a lot of these people—and ourselves—saved in the kingdom of God.”
In the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea are people who rarely see medical supplies, or even visitors. Adventist Aviation, despite a 26-year-old plane in need of constant maintenance, regularly ferries provisions, medical staff, and Adventist pastors from village to village.
Pilot Roger Millist knows how desperately these people need air service. The area served by Adventist Aviation is nearly impenetrable to modern methods of transportation. “Much has not changed [since Adventists first came to the area]. It is still a long way away; there are still no roads. The trek that took men over six weeks, I just flew yesterday—20 minutes out, 20 minutes back. But there are many thousands of villages, hundreds of places with small bush airstrips. When we land there, they ask the same questions they asked 40 years ago: ‘When can we have a clinic?’ ‘When can we have a teacher?’ ‘When can we have a nurse?’ ‘When can somebody come and teach us about the Bible?’”
Roger knows well the history of Adventist Aviation’s role in reaching the remote populations of Papua New Guinea: “The year 1977 was the last time Adventist Church members around the world contributed to the mission of Adventist Aviation in Papua New Guinea, when our last new Cessna 206 aircraft was purchased. The aircraft behind me,” he says with a nod, “is more than 26 years old now. We are in desperate need of a new, high-performance, efficient aircraft that will reduce maintenance and increase capacity to serve the people of this country.”
In the tropical paradise of Fiji the University of the South Pacific (USP) attracts the brightest and best of the entire region. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is ministering to these students in a setting that is full to bursting. It is looking to build a church building big enough to house its expanding group of worshippers.
“I’m part of the University of the South Pacific church,” says a young woman named Veronica. “My family’s been attending the USP church for the last two and a half years. All this time we’ve been moving from one place to the other; every Sabbath we just keep on moving.”
The church members may be transient at the moment, but they find blessings, even in their hardships.
“I’ve found the church to be very friendly, very nice,” says Ivy. “It was hard at first, every Sabbath, moving to so many different places; there was no permanent place for us to worship. I thought it a bit funny, but it made me get closer to Jesus; and that, to me, was a blessing. The USP church is like Moses with the Israelites in the desert, moving from place to place.”
Fiji is a beautiful place to live, and the Seventh-day Adventists who live there want to build a beautiful church to house the students of the University of the South Pacific as they grow spiritually and academically into the leadership roles God has planned for them.
The mission offering for the third quarter of 2006 helped fund these and other needs in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. You’ve read how people have responded to community needs and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Just how is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? How will your life be different if you heed His invitation?
___________________This report is provided by the General Conference Department of Adventist Mission. For a DVD version of this report, or for more information about Adventist Mission, visit www.AdventistMission.org.