For the past year, GMP’s partner churches in Fiji have been without a Field Director. Bruce Edwards departed the role, and returned to Australia after a fruitful six years. There was apprehension — how would the small and sometimes fragile Fijian churches adapt?
During this transition, I visited Fiji five times. So what did I find?
I discovered that the churches were doing more than just ‘surviving’. Maybe I wouldn’t say that they were ‘thriving’ — not yet! But they are all taking steps to be less dependent on GMP. This is exactly what we want to see! Our support through International Church Partnerships (ICP) always aims to build communities up to be self-sustaining.
After approximately a quarter of a century of partnership we are seeing our churches in Fiji becoming self-governing, self-supporting and taking initiatives to grow. Each of our churches operates in a different context, so these initiatives look different for each of them.
In coastal Sigatoka, the Lomowai Church partners with Korean missionary Pastor Lim. Their church mixes various traditions together. Pastor Lim also provides important support to the Lomowai Church pastor, Muneshwar. The congregation had been meeting on a plot of land donated by a church member. They held services under a basic shelter, exposed to the heat and the rain. Recently, the church sourced funds and labour, and built a new building! This is an important step towards Lomowai Church’s maturity.
In Suva we partner with the Vuci Rd Church of Christ. This congregation meets in Pastor Raj’s family home in a residential area in Nausori, on Suva’s outskirts. This church is also taking more responsibility for its finances, and setting its own direction. They reach out to a predominantly Hindi population, and Raj’s ministry focuses on prayer and healing and is seeing good results.
In the sugar cane city of Lautoka the church gathers in an unsuitable space at the Cathay Hotel. From 1-3pm every Sunday they meet and worship in song, prayer, communion and the Word. During the week, Pastor David builds up the church leaders and makes pastoral visits. He has also initiated outreach to survivors of domestic violence! The church is in a healthy state, with baptisms occurring regularly. Their next step will be locating a permanent place for the church to call ‘home’ in this growing city.
GMP also has an MOU with the Nakasi Church, and is observing the growth of a house church in Nausori to see if it can join the GMP family.
The goal with all our work is to one day no longer be needed. We’re not there yet, but these churches are adapting well to significant changes. We look forward to seeing them grow further into maturity.