The Fiji Corrections Service (FCS) has signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the Seventh-day Adventist Church to play a more active role in rehabilitating its members back into society.
Currently, 392 of approximately 2,500 prisoners in Fiji are members of the Adventist Church, making up 16 percent of the total prison population, second only to Methodists. Most of them accepted Jesus and Adventist beliefs while they were serving their time.
This number of inmates has raised the concern of Adventist Church leaders in Fiji and inspired them to take action.
Trans-Pacific Union Mission president Maveni Kaufononga said that rehabilitation is a priority for the Adventist Church in Fiji.
“I am glad our missions are supporting with the rehabilitation of our prisoners coming out,” he said. “It is said that many of them go back again and again because they can’t find a place outside of prison where they are accepted. Many of them come out with no place to stay, no job, stripped of [their] dignity. Our church should be there for them.”
Rehabilitation efforts will largely focus on providing care and community to former inmates when they are released from prison, as well as counseling services.
Fiji Mission personal ministries director Talemo Ratakele Cakobau said the Adventist Church’s ministry will be more effective by being in partnership with FCS.
“Evidence has shown that [some] inmates have become frontline ministers of the Adventist Church because of the care given to them,” he said. “The memorandum is very significant to us, because now we can directly liaise with FCS in regards to providing services.”
FCS Commissioner Commander Francis Kean said the work of corrections personnel goes in tandem with the Adventist Church’s work.
“Religious organizations play an instrumental role in the process of rehabilitation and behavior change,” he said. “It has a way of counseling without heavy reprimand, something that helps the inmates to see the need to change from their wayward ways and become better members of society.”
Coming into effect in August 2020, the memorandum is a culmination of months of talks and a symposium that was held for the FCS and the Adventist Church in February this year.