The Seventh-day Adventist Church recently marked important milestones in two South Pacific island nations. In the Cook Islands, two church members were elected to the nation’s parliament. In a first for Vanuatu, an Adventist school renovation project was granted government funding. Regional church leaders believe both events showcase the increasing visibility of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific and beyond.
Elected to Cook Islands Parliament
Two Seventh-day Adventists are new members of the Cook Islands parliament after the country recently held its general election.
Kitai Manuela Teinakore and Tereapii Maki-Kavana, both from the island of Aitutaki, are newly elected Members of Parliament (MPs). They join re-elected MP Toka Hagai, also an Adventist church member, who represents Rakahanga. Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna, who comes from a strong Adventist family, was also re-elected.
Cook Islands Mission president Eliu Eliu welcomed the result. “[The elected members] will be positive contributors to the well-being of our nation,” he said.
South Pacific Division youth director Nick Kross, who recently conducted discipleship and youth leadership training in the Cook Islands, said: “They are all active Adventists; they are all engaged in churches, so that’s excellent for the country and excellent for [the Seventh-day Adventist Church] as well, to see that sort of representation.”
The islands are split into 24 electorates. More than 7,500 people voted in the June 14, 2018, election.
Government Funding in Vanuatu
For the first time, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the trans-Pacific region has received government funding to renovate an Adventist school.
Church leaders, members, and government officers launched the Kwataparen School construction project on July 9, 2018. Kwataparen School is one of four junior schools to be renovated on the island of Tanna. Vanuatu education minister Jean Pierre Nirua attended the launch ceremony, together with government officials, community and church members, and other stakeholders involved in the project.
Upgrades will include a boys’ and girls’ dormitory with a toilet block, an administration building, a dining hall with kitchen and two staff houses, along with repairs to an existing classroom building and two existing staff houses.
Speaking to those in attendance, the education minister thanked the community for their patience, prayers, and commitment to the project, asking for support for the smooth running of the renovation work.
Representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Vanuatu Mission chief financial officer Apisalome Seru delivered a response to the Minister for Education. “It was a humbling experience,” he said after the ceremony. “Many community and church members attended the launch, and the Minister for Education gave them time to ask questions, which were answered by his team.”
Seru shared that the project terms show respect for Adventist commitment to the Bible, including the biblical seventh-day Sabbath.
“A clause in the building contract states that work will finish at 4:00 p.m. every Friday and that no work will be carried out on both Sabbath and Sunday,” Seru said. “It is clear evidence of how God can use authority to further His kingdom in Vanuatu.”
The total funding for the project is close to AU$2 million (US$1.48 million). The project is expected to be completed by July 2019.