Adventist Record, with Adventist Review staff, South Pacific
The leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji appealed for church members to pray and assist in any way possible after a devastating storm badly damaged churches and schools in the South Pacific country last weekend.
At least 42 people were killed when Cyclone Winston pounded Fiji with heavy rainfall and winds of more than 200 miles an hour (320 kilometers an hour) on the night of Feb. 20 and 21. A middle-aged Adventist believer was also seriously injured when flying iron roofing struck him as he ran for cover during the storm.
“Fiji has just experienced one of the worst cyclones in its history,” Luke Narabe, president of the Adventist Church in Fiji, said in a video posted on Facebook. “Right now we are still in shock as we reflect upon what Winston has done to our nation.”
The video released by the church’s Fiji Mission shows flattened churches and school buildings with missing roofs. Church-owned property that were destroyed or suffered extensive water damage include buildings at the Navesau Adventist Secondary School, the Peni Tavodi Memorial church, the Naqia Adventist church, the Navolau church and the Lewa Adventist Primary School.
Narabe said the storm provided the church with an opportunity to “unite and share our message of hope.” He asked for church members around the world to assist the people of Fiji through prayer and financial means.
Promises of support came swiftly. The Adventist Church in the South Pacific country of Vanuatu has asked all its local congregations to participate in a special offering for Fiji on March 26. Vanuatu itself is still recovering from Cyclone Pam, which destroyed 53 churches in March 2015.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is already on the ground and beginning to assist those hit hardest by the storm.
“Getting food to families is the most urgent need at the moment,” said Iliapi Tuwai, ADRA’s country director for Fiji. “With gardens and farms destroyed, there is little for people to eat. Children are hungry, and disease is starting to grow.”
The food packs distributed by ADRA in the north of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, contain essential items, including rice, tuna, sugar, and high-energy biscuits. The packs are designed to provide enough supplementary nutrition for a family of five for a week.
“These food packs will ensure families can survive until more aid can be provided,” Tuwai said.
Tuwai said this is just the beginning of ADRA’s response.
“We are already planning to provide emergency shelter and access to safe water and hygiene materials,” he said. “This is not a disaster that people recover from quickly. We’ve also begun plans for recovery projects that will help people re-establish their homes and livelihoods.”
A team of specialists from other ADRA offices has flown in to assist. The emergency response team includes ADRA staff members from Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.
For ADRA updates, visit