than 300 Rotuma islanders gathered for a rare camp meeting over the year end.
The gathering became the talk of the 2,000 unique indigenous people who inhabit
the isolated islands of Rotuma. Rotumans are more connected ancestrally and
culturally to the Polynesian peoples of Tonga, Samoa, Futuna, and Uvea than
they are to Fiji, but proudly they constitute a minority people within the
Republic of Fiji.
was a rare gathering because transportation to and from the island is a
was wait-listed for over three months on the one plane to the island each
week," explains Pastor Alex Currie, keynote speaker for the camp meeting.
"[I] then ended up travelling by ship for 50 hours with another 150
weekly plane only carries six or seven passengers, depending on the amount of
luggage each carries. Due to the lack of transportation church leaders seldom
visit this volcanic island of 43 square kilometers (13 kilometers long and four
kilometers wide at the widest point and 230 meters at the narrowest) that is
located 12 degrees south latitude and 177 degrees east longitude. Rotuma is 646
kilometers directly north of Fiji.
Currie preached every evening and on Sabbath during the 10-day celebration. He
was ably supported by Glory 4, a quartet originally formed at Fulton College
but whose members are now serving in three island groups; Kiribati, Samoa, and
Fiji. "This singing group made a huge impact not only on the campers but
in special events and other church services on the island," Currie says.
theme of the meetings was "family life", which highlighted the
influence of notable Pacific Island families on their own families and on
Adventist family culture.
Currie was supported by a team
of other ministers led by Pastor Mike Sikuri (Family Ministries director for
the Trans-Pacific Union) and Pastor Fred Taito, newly appointed minister for
the island, who cared for morning meetings, including a Vacation Bible School
and recreational activities.
hundred and fifty campers lived in tents and in a public school and were fed
with island produce grown by local Rotuman farmers. One day 260 delicious
watermelons were picked from one farmer’s garden alone. (This to the people was
a miracle in itself for only Adventists were harvesting watermelons, according
to a non-Adventist chief who visited the camp.) Pineapples were harvested by
the barrow load. Root crops were in abundance. Coconuts were so plentiful they
could be picked anywhere on the island. Fish is also a staple part of the
isolated islanders' diet.
highlight of the gathering was the baptism of 10 candidates on the last Sabbath
morning. It was held at 7 am to avoid the tidal waves. Pastors prepared nine
Rotumans and one Indian woman for baptism in the quiet waters of the peaceful
Pacific Ocean. Many people testified to the blessing of God on the camp and
with improved transport hope to have a camp on the island every second year.
"Pray for Pastor Taito as he is led by the Spirit to touch the lives of
these beautiful Pacific Island people," Currie says.