A casual daily morning walk by the Adventist Church’s Trans-Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) office staff has become a movement and is encouraging church leaders and members throughout the TPUM territory to stay active. TPUM is based in Suva, Fiji.
The initiative, now named Walk4Life, started small when TPUM president Maveni Kaufononga invited office staff to join him and his wife each morning from Monday to Friday on a 30-minute walk starting at 5:00 a.m.
After 47 weeks, the initiative is growing throughout the South Pacific Division region. A Facebook group page was created that now has more than 400 participants from around the TPUM countries.
Pastors, teachers, and church members are encouraged to post a picture of themselves or the group they walked with each morning and upload it to the page. This has inspired many around different Pacific countries to post from their various locations and share their exercise experience.
Tipalelupe Tapuai from American Samoa joined the movement after being influenced by the pictures shared on the Facebook page. “Every day I’d see pictures posted on the Walk4Life message group and page from TPUM leaders in Kiribati, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and others,” Tapuai said. “I thought to myself, If they, in their busy schedule, can do it, why can’t I?”
Tapuai joined his wife at the gym every afternoon and, after two weeks, had lost 10 pounds (4.5 kg). “It’s a big achievement in this land where food is in your face at every turn! This has changed my health and, ultimately, my lifestyle habits. Now I have more energy and a good mood. I also feel that I’m regaining my youthful strength. I am so glad that our leaders are leading by example,” he added.
Samoa and Tokelau Mission secretary Neru Nuuialii shared that he also has lost almost 14 pounds (6 kg) since joining the program. Nuuialii not only does morning walks but also posts pictures of him and his family working in their garden. He shares quotes from church co-founder Ellen White of how working in the garden is beneficial and profitable to the health and wellbeing of the family.
Kiribati Mission president Taabua Rokeatau shared that he also has made many lifestyle changes since joining the program and encourages his team and church members in Kiribati to join him.
A strong supporter of staying active and healthy is Fiji Mission CFO Apisalome Seru, who has taken a different approach. He rides his bicycle every morning and also joined a fitness group in Suva called Box-Fit. “There are people at different stages in their health journey, and wherever you feel you are at, whether a beginner, intermediate, or pro, Walk4Life is a great program to keep us all in check and keep up with each other’s progress,” Seru said.
TPUM health director and 10,000 Toes Campaign coordinator George Kwong is excited about the potential this project has to promote more healthy habits in the community. “Our 10,000 Toes Campaign wishes to see wellness hubs across the TPUM region. Wellness hubs are locations, places, and anywhere that people gather for regular healthy activities. Walk4Life has become the fastest-growing mobile wellness hub in our region. The participation from our leaders and pastors is inspiring as this movement becomes a conduit for healthy living in our communities,” he said.
Starting this movement as a small project, Kaufononga is thrilled and overwhelmed with how the Walk4Life health initiative has grown over the past 10 months. “It is so good to see pastors, teachers, elders, and church members join this Walk4Life movement and share how it has helped them. Let us continue to look after our health as we serve God together throughout the Pacific,” he said.
Kaufononga continues to promote the program wherever he goes around the Pacific.