The Fiji Mission commemorated 132 years of Adventism in Fiji on August 3 and acknowledged the sacrifice of the church’s pioneers and missionaries of the late 1800s.
Held at the mission headquarters in Suvavou, the celebration was attended by retired mission workers, representatives from Suvavou village, church members, and Fiji Mission and Trans-Pacific Union Mission staff.
Fiji Mission president Nasoni Lutunaliwa said during the celebration, “The work in Fiji or the Pacific would not exist without the sacrifice and faithful toil of missionaries and church workers who gave their lives to God’s call and bravely went forth to teach, raise disciples, and make a difference in an atmosphere of indifference and danger.”
He made specific mention of John Ives Tay and his wife, Hannah, who came to Fiji on board the Pitcairn, sold medical books to Europeans living in Suva, and were the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to Fiji. Tay died of influenza on January 8, 1892, just five months after their arrival, and is buried at the Suva cemetery.
“If it had not been for their willingness to answer the call to service, it would have taken much longer for the word of God to reach you and me,” Lutunaliwa said.
“You and I have received the blessings of the light shed through the service of these missionaries. We need to continue their legacy and pick up the challenge to be witnesses to other parts of our globe that need our service,” he added.
Nausori Adventist church elder Epeli Narisia shared the story of his father’s missionary assignment to the island of Rotuma when he was just a six-month-old infant. He said the family lived under a thatched shelter made of leaves for weeks before being accepted into the community. His father, Jope Narisia, was the first Adventist missionary to Rotuma.
Retired education director and teacher Peni Dakua shared a brief history of Adventist education in Fiji. “Early missionaries were committed to establishing Adventist schools, and the church grew exponentially in the early 1900s in areas that had Adventist schools,” Dakua said.
Trans-Pacific Union Mission president Maveni Kaufononga said Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga received Adventism around the same time and were under one mission and leadership. “We can only acknowledge how God has led anointed servants, missionaries, and past leaders in how Adventism has grown in the region,” he said. “We are here because of the sacrifices of men and women who have gone before us, and it is our duty to leave a legacy that will harness God’s work for those that will come after us.”