GMP sends people into mission settings, both volunteers and those who are supported financially. Bruce Edwards, along with wife Lisa and their five children, have been serving with the Fiji Community Churches of Christ since 2013. GMP is committed to supporting Bruce in his role helping Fiji churches move towards self-sustainability.
GMP’s partner churches in Fiji emerged from a heart to reach the Indian community, which makes up almost half of Fiji’s population due, because British colonists brought Indian labourers to work in the sugarcane fields. The primary focus of Bruce’s role is mentoring the local pastors, who are all first generation Christians, having come to faith from Hindu backgrounds. Historically there has been tension across racial lines, with differences arising over beliefs and culture, as well as conflict over land and farming. As a result there is often low trust and acceptance of one another, even within the church. “We would like to see a greater openness and love for one another develop regardless of racial background. This is slow and challenging work, with frustrations, disappointments and setbacks”, says Bruce. When a pastor experiencing leadership training shows appreciation, Bruce is encouraged as it shows “what I do is not in vain and is very valuable”.
One of the values of GMP is to increase local capacity for leadership and governance to a self-sustaining level. There has been a great spirit of resilience and generosity through the recent challenges posed by Cyclone Winston. Members of the local churches have donated money or collected clothing and other items to be distributed to places in need. Many of those giving to help others in Sigatoka, Lautoka, Ba and Rakiraki are themselves very poor, but eager to assist those in greater need – reminiscent of the Macedonian church Paul praises so highly to the Corinthians. Fiji Community Churches of Christ thank you for your generosity towards the Fiji Cyclone Winston Appeal, and ask that you continue to pray for their communities.
As Bruce and his leadership team look to the future they are developing ways to invest in congregational leadership. “Fiji is rife with unhealthy models of leadership,” he says, “often focused on power and control. Navigating change with cultural sensitivity is an especially challenging task for which we appreciate your prayers.” Another key aspect of Bruce’s work is facilitating partnerships with Australian churches. Current partnerships include Devonport Church of Christ and a growing partnership with Nowra Church of Christ. Visits are always an encouragement to the churches and pastors in Fiji, and also to Bruce and his family – “I get to hang out with some Aussies for a while!”
Bruce does plan to return to Australia in the future. “As I prepare to transition out we will focus on building and strengthening local churches alongside their pastors, and also identify some key individuals who can be equipped for roles in organisational governance. This means that GMP and the Fiji Community Churches of Christ will be in a position to partner together on an increasingly equal footing.”
Please continue to keep the Edwards family in your prayers. If you would like to support Bruce and his family make a donation or sign up to his newsletter please contact us!
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