Presented Thursday, July 1, 2010
In the South Pacific more than 410,000 Seventh-day Adventists live in an area covered by 20 million square miles of ocean and only 3 million square miles of land.
South Pacific Division (SPD) ?Adventists are intentionally seeking God’s direction as we find innovative ways to meet the challenge of making disciples and sharing the gospel in the countries and communities scattered across the South Pacific.
Look at what God is doing:
During the past five years hundreds of people have become Adventist Christians as a result of more than 40 churches strategically planted in big cities and remote Pacific islands.
New Australian churches were planted in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. A Russian-language church was planted in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Churches have been built in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. An Adventist minister is now located on the island of Nauru, and land has been donated for a church building. Children’s outreach programs were intentionally run in each location, as well.
A Bible worker is preparing to enter the territory of Tokelau, and the first outreach initiative on Wallis Island is reaping rich rewards, following the granting of permission by the government for Adventists to conduct evangelistic meetings there. Almost all of Wallis’s 10,000 inhabitants are Roman Catholics; Protestantism is rarely practiced or welcomed.
Exciting things are happening among the indigenous people of Australia. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia die, on average, 20 years earlier than other Australians. So Mamarapha College—an Adventist-run tertiary school for Aboriginals near Perth—now offers a Diploma of Indigenous Lifestyle Health. Many students are baptized during the course of their studies.
The 260 Aboriginal residents of Aputula near the geographical center of Australia have asked for an Adventist Bible worker to move into their remote town. Half of the town’s homes have satellite dishes installed, so residents can watch the Adventist television channels. Adventists from Adelaide have helped build a Seventh-day Adventist church in the town.
On Saibai Island, off the northernmost tip of Australia, the first six baptisms have been held following a Global Mission outreach campaign in the Torres Strait run by Don Fehlberg, associate director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries for the Australian Union Conference.
The South Pacific is full of challenges. In Australia fires and floods have destroyed lives and property. In the Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Tonga, some church members lost their lives or property following devastating tsunamis in 2009.
Another challenge in the developing countries of the South Pacific is the lack of seating in churches. Churches are full, and thousands have to sit outside. For example, SPD ministerial director Gary Webster ran an evangelistic series in the Solomon Islands. He spoke to 1,000 people every night in the Kukum church. But his support team had to erect four large projection screens outside, because another 5,000 people turned up each night wanting to hear the gospel message.
A new multipurpose center was opened in late 2009—the largest building in the Solomons—capable of seating 6,000 people. The first event was a weeklong children’s exposition, attended by more than 1,000 people who came to be trained and inspired. Church leaders plan to construct more such buildings in other South Pacific locations.
Education is core to the mission of the church. Across the South Pacific, more than 46,000 students attend 332 Adventist schools. The church also operates tertiary colleges and universities, including Avondale College in Australia and Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea.
But there’s another exciting development taking place right now. In 1940 Fulton College was established in Fiji to train young adults to take the gospel message to the people of the Trans Pacific region. But in 2007, after numerous requests throughout many years, the traditional landowners asked for their land back. Church leaders looked for a new site while examining how Fulton College could become affiliated as a campus of Pacific Adventist University. A search committee found a 50-hectare site just minutes from Fiji’s Nadi International Airport. The Christian owner agreed to lease this land to the church for 99 years, with automatic renewals thereafter. Six months ago Adventists around the world gave an offering to ensure the viability of this strategic relocation.
For more than 100 years South Pacific Adventists have helped the community live healthier, happier lives.
Sydney Adventist Hospital is one of the largest private hospitals in Australia. Every year 2,500 staff members provide medical, surgical, and wellness services to more than 45,000 patients and 155,000 outpatients.
In the developing countries there is an awakening as Adventists reenergize rundown and worn-out medical clinics. Some island medical clinics were established 100 years ago, but all 54 have deteriorated to the point where they have little or no equipment and poor facilities. Australian and New Zealand churches have been encouraged to “adopt a clinic” in an islander community and renovate it. Water and clean facilities have now been restored to most clinics. Containers of donated medical and surgical equipment have been sent to help equip each clinic.
Since 1898 Sanitarium Health Food Company has continued to successfully share the church’s health and well-being philosophy with the community. Sanitarium Weet-Bix remains the number one breakfast cereal in Australia and New Zealand. So Good continues to be Australia’s number one soy milk and a leading brand in New Zealand. Liquid breakfast Up&Go is becoming so popular in Australia and New Zealand that it may soon challenge Weet-Bix’s number one position. Moving forward, Sanitarium is now using state-of-the-art robotics equipment to streamline its production. As part of Sanitarium’s philosophy of caring for our communities, its Good Start Breakfast Club, in partnership with the Red Cross, last year served more than 800,000 free breakfasts across Australia. Also last year New Zealand prime minister John Key awarded Sanitarium’s NZ Kick Start Breakfast program the Best New Initiative. More than 32,000 children participate each year in the Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon series. All of Sanitarium’s operating profits are returned to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific to assist the church in its mission.
The highly acclaimed Keepers of the Flame and Search video documentaries have been successful tools used by the world church. And Signs and Record magazines have become the oldest continuous publications in Australia’s history. Now, a significant restructure of the Signs Publishing Company and Adventist media has dynamically integrated print, video, and Web.
BEYOND is a million-dollar multimedia evangelistic series being produced by the Adventist Media Network. The series will provide the ?world church with a brand-new soul-?winning resource. It Is Written Oceania is now the most popular religious program on Australian TV, and is also being broadcast in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The InFocus Christian News and Current Affairs program is being broadcast on FOXTEL in Australia and Shine TV in New Zealand, and will continue to position Adventists as having a credible contribution to make to Christianity. More than ?$3 million has been invested in a new printing press at the Warburton campus in Victoria, ensuring the future of publishing in the South Pacific.
Focus on Mission
One of the unique events that have occurred in the South Pacific was the Festival of Mission. In 2009 more than 650 delegates from across the South Pacific attended the first-ever Festival of Mission in Queensland, Australia. The delegates discussed with church leaders various ideas and concerns including a possible strategic direction for the church. Delegates said the praise and worship modeled a new way forward, and keynote speakers Hyveth Williams and José Rojas set the tone for deeper spirituality.
Rojas said, “I have never seen anything like the Festival of Mission anywhere else in the world.”
Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done here in the South Pacific. Here, we are involved in innovative mission for our Lord.