Friday, 30 August 2013

Our Final Week in Fiji and the Trek home

We finished up in Suva and headed out West towards Port Denerau to catch the Malolo Cat out to Plantation Island.  This week is a holdiay week and has proved to be a blessing we never knew we needed.  It makes for a great transition from living in Suva to returning to N.Z.  It provides an opportunity for us to spend some relaxation time as a family just having fun.  It is a great stepping stone from living in Fijian culture to returning to NZ culture.  And we had fun.

Having Dinner in the restaurant on the beach. Buffet dinner just means you eat too much!

The kids get to go into the Plantation Island Kids Club if they wish.  This day they got to go on a trip in the Semisubmersible boat.  I managed to get on also.  The boat has a cavity under the water that you can go and sit in and look out the window at the coral reef and the fish.  Very cool.

And when they are not in the kids club they enjoy swimming in the pool and on the slide with the friends they have made.  We also get to go snorkelling, kayaking and just relaxing on the beach.
 The kids club also means we get to spend some time together alone.  No babysitters in Fiji so we don't get a lot of time together without kids.
This year Paige got to get her hair braided.  It took 1 1/2 hours but it looks awesome.

Yay!  Here we are at the airport ready to go home! 2pm

But wait - here we have discovered our flight is delayed from 9.35pm to 11.59pm!

And this is after finding out our flight has been cancelled and we are now on the AirNZ flight at 1.30am!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Week Five update

Preaching and Communication week is normally held before Reaching Children and Families but due to the timetable of lecturers it needed to be held after.  This week we focus on the principles that make communication effective.  It is a fun but eye opening time for a lot of the students.   Most people think that it is what we know that makes us effective communicators but there are a lot of people that are experts at knowing the Scriptures but the way they communicate what they know is boring and almost gives the impression that the word of God is irrelevant to life.

Charles Spurgeon made this statement about Christian preachers, “In the world actors spend hours making something that is not truth seem real and true.  But often we have preachers in the pulpits that have the truth yet spend hours preparing and delivering God’s Word in a way that people listen and come away thinking what they have said can’t be true.”  Effective communication is not just speaking the truth it is also the way you speak about it.  It’s showing how that truth relates to the real world and to their lives.  I remember hearing it said that a reason non-Christians reject Christianity is not that they believe it is not true but rather they don’t see how it is relevant to their lives.  I wonder if much of Christian communication comes across to a lot of people today as irrelevant because we don’t understand where our audience is at so when they hear the truth it is like the seed that falls on the path and the birds of the air snatch it away.  I observed that all the other soils heard and received the Word because they understood yet the seed that fell on the path only heard the Word, it never says they received it or understood it. 

Gerald Bradley said about being an effective communicator,

“You got to know your stuff,
You got to know who your stuffing,
You need to stuff them well!”

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Summary of Week 4 SOE

The focus of this training is often looked down upon.  It is not considered to be the height of ministry and is often only considered as a stepping stone to something greater.  The ministry is underfunded, under focused, undervalued and under resourced.  That is the ministry to children.

Over 50% of the world’s population are too young to vote yet, in a lot of places, they are an unreached people group in many countries.  As we launched into this week we looked at why we should evangelise children.  We looked at God’s attitude as opposed to man’s attitude.    It is an interesting observation when Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep and lost prodigal son.  The context is always concerning children not adults.  Dr Rueben Torey makes this statement, “The younger we can get a child to timely accept Christ and then begin his Christian training, the more beautiful will be the product of our work.  Children make the best Christians workers.  I have seen this to be fact around the world.”  So in class we looked at some of the dangers that people can fall into when evangelizing children and become equipped to reach them effectively.

Some of the students were nervous concerning the outreaches as one student felt they never related to children that well.  She was proven wrong.  After one program,  that the students did at a school of over 100 children, a bunch of girls swarmed around her asked her to teach them more about the Lord.  She felt so blown away, encouraged and blessed that despite her fears she was able to help people understand our amazing God in a deeper way.

Over this week the students went into a low cost housing area and ran two programs where around 100 kids attended.  A number of them were interested in developing a relationship with the Lord.  The students also broke up into two groups and went to two different schools.  One of the schools had over 790 kids and we ran our program outside with a faulty PA system.  The team did so well despite the circumstances.  This school had a high rate of Hindu and Muslim kids.

The other school was quite a lot smaller with about 100 children.  After the program was finished it was lunch time and more than half the students gave up their lunch time over the 2 days to talk and learn more about the one who takes away the sin of the world.   All up over the week we shared Christ with well over 1000 students.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Two weeks to go!

Yesterday we celebrated the graduation of the students from Fiji SOE 2013.  It is such a privilege to be a part of this.  As I watch Jem in action and feel so blessed that the Lord has chosen to use him, and so our family, in this way. 

While I have very little to do with the SOE myself the students always seem so appreciative towards me and the kids as if we had given to them ourselves.  Which is why it is so humbly to receive gifts and to be honoured with a special flower neck garland (which I can't remember the name of!).  The kids also received shell necklaces and then gifts of Fiji necklaces and a cool ruler.  Jeremy was given a neat photo frame and I received a woven handbag with Fiji printed on it.  We are so blessed to be a part of the work here - that alone is a great gift!

With only 2 weeks to go before we return home my mind has started to think of Hastings.  As we finish up work in Suva and I start thinking of packing I feel a little homesick.  I have really enjoyed being here but lately have felt very much like it is just not home!  I am with my family and we are surrounded by many lovely people but I feel a little like I don't belong and I miss being with people who know me.  I was blessed this morning to meet a lady who lived in Palmerston North for a short period while she studied at Massey University.  It is nice to talk to someone whom you have something in common with.

Jeremy preaching at Suva St Gospel Chapel this morning
When we first arrived here there were no decorations on the walls and my creative side needed to have something.  Not wanting to spend money on such things for the short time I am here I copied out a poem from a book I was reading.  It starts like this...
"Give us, Oh Lord,
steadfast hearts that cannot be dragged down by false loves;
give us courageous hearts that cannot be worn down by trouble;
give us righteous hearts that cannot be side tracked by unholy or unworthy goals."

This morning in church the pastor spoke about our home being in heaven.  Hastings is not my home.  I should not be 'in love' with my home here on earth but rather "set my mind on things above."

It takes a 'manly man' to wear a skirt so well!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Week 3 -Open Air Week

Jesus said, "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men."
The Open Air week is the week that all the students dread the most.  The fear the students experience is sometimes overwhelming.  The thought of standing in the street and not knowing what will happen is unnerving. One student said, "It's a peace of cake to preach to hundreds in a church on Sunday, but the though of attempting to share the Gospel to non-Christians in the street terrifies me!"

This week is the hardest for all the students.  Often the students are hoping for rain so they won't have to preach.  Often they hope they will get sick so they have an excuse not to attend.  Yet despite all their anxiety and fear they all show tremendous courage and overcome their fears.  To the students surprise as they preach their nerves that they thought would choke them dissipated and as they look up they se a sea of faces eagerly listening to what they have to say.  One of our students as they were preaching the Gospel had over 50 people listening to them.  All of the students, when they preached were able to gather their own crowds of various sizes.

Open Air ministry is very fruitful in Fiji.  When I started our first Open Air there was hardly anyone around.  Within minutes there were eager listeners surrounding me.  In just the two Open Air meetings that I was a part of we saw over 30 people respond to the Gospel for the first time.  It is so encouraging to be able to preach the gospel and see people respond, and then when you council them you find out they understand exactly what they are doing and are ready to give up their religion and trust in Christ alone.

One Indian man approached me after we finished preaching and were packing up.  He said, "I'm sorry.  I was listening to your message.  I had to go, but I'm back now because I am ready to give up Hinduism and follow Christ.  I want to give Jesus my life - am I too late?"  Praise the Lord that the Gospel is the power of God!

The students, after the Open Air, were encouraged and excited because what they thought they could not do, they did!  The Open Air week, at the start, was the week that was feared the most but by the end of the week it was one of their favourites.  It is life changing when you come to realise that the Lord has used you to impact another persons life for eternity despite your limitations, fears and weaknesses.
I'm reminded of the words of Charles Spurgeon, "Why would I degrade myself to be a king, when God has called me to be a soul winner."

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Perfect Fiji Day!

Yesterday was a perfect Fiji day.  Jeremy and Dylan spent some special time together while Paige and I did the same.  We caught the bus to town together and then went our separate ways at the market.  Paige and I left the boys to do some shopping.  We went to Rups Big Bear, a large department store that sells everything.  We decided to have some fun trying on Indian Traditional Sari's.  They look so beautiful in all the shops (and there are a lot that sell them) that we had to give it a go.  We found a lovely assistant to help us.

We then headed back out into the streets to do some shopping.  We found a lovely colourful long dress for Paige - she looks so grown up!

We went to Gloria Jeans coffee shop for lunch where we bought one, or rather one each, slices of cake.  The big beautiful looking cakes that I usually only admire!  We split them up and had half of each cake.  Paige was offering to finish mine but once she got half way through she changed her mind and barely finished her own.  We were pigs!  Our eyes are definitely bigger than our stomachs!

We then walked to the Holiday Inn Hotel to meet up with the boys and have a swim.  It was about 35 degrees yesterday so it was a great day for hanging out by the pool.  There were some other kids there so that was really nice for Dylan and Paige who miss playing with other children. 

The kids spent the evening chanting a  song out a Peter Pan movie, that they slightly altered, to Jeremy "Why is the white man red?"    As you may have figured there was a bit of sunburn.

Friday, 9 August 2013

It's all His Work

Painting up Jeremy's message for him
I was reading yesterday in Philippians about how God began a good work in me.  And He will bring it to completion.  What a freeing verse.  I seem to put so much energy in trying to be the perfect wife for Jeremy, supporting him in his ministry.  Making sure I provide a nice restful, homely environment for him to come home to.  I try so hard to be the perfect mother helping the kids to get through their school work (which there is a lot of), teaching them how to deal with issues in a Biblical way.  I am trying so hard all the time to take each instruction that I read in the Bible and other godly books and apply them to my life.  It is exhausting.  Yes, I should strive to be the best I can but I must always remember it is God who began the good work in me and He will bring it to completion.  I have lost my joy in trying to meet some perfect standard that I concocted in my head.  I have failed to meet that standard and then battled feeling so down because I have failed.  Oh how silly I have been!

Once again I am reminded to find my joy and fulfilment in Him.  As I seek to 'Love the Lord your God with all [my] heart' and 'Delight [myself] in Him', he will continue to work in me bringing His work in me to perfection.  Life is so much simpler and enjoyable when my focus is on Him.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Week 2 - SOE

During Week 2 of the SOE we covered Personal Evangelism and Apologetics.  These topics are vital when it comes to defending and communicating the basis of our faith.  Within the Christian community we need to take a serious look at the topic of Evangelism.  So many people seem to have lost confidence in the saving power of the gospel.  We try to add things to it and redefine it all in an attempt to make it more appealing to non-Christians so they can’t help but accept it.  Often in our attempts we remove the very life giving ingredients that bring about transformation.

In class we have wrestled with what the Bible really teaches about Evangelism.  There was a lot of repentance as we searched the Scriptures and realised that a lot of our churches are involved in a lot of activities that we call evangelism yet no actual evangelism is taking place.  They are involved in a lot of good works but the power of God is left unused.  The students became committed to be champions of the Gospel and evangelism in the hope Fiji might be reached for Christ.

We studied the gospel, practised presenting the gospel to each other and then went out with the gospel.  We found great success.  People are so open when it comes to the gospel.  We have shared the gospel, l through one to one on the streets and door to door, with over 300 people in a short time.  Students for the first time in their lives are seeing fruit of people surrendering their lives to Christ; Hindu’s, Muslims, religious people are all coming to faith in Christ.

One of our students witnessed to a Muslim man.  He was going through a rough time at work.  The student shared the gospel with him and sought to help where he could.  This man was so blown away with his genuine love he gave his life to Christ.  Now this man is going through hell because the Muslim leaders are trying to get his wife to leave him and they are really persecuting him.  There is a cost to following Christ but we don’t have to fear because Christ not only died for us but he defeated our greatest enemies by rising from the grave.  That same power dwells within all believers.

Praise God that our students have recognised the power of the Gospel and are beginning to minister the gospel with this power that he offers.  Because of this many are being not only reached but transformed.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The SOE!



Looking back over week one of the SOE it was a great week – tiring but rewarding.  We were  able to cover a lot in a short amount of time.  We looked at how a person is approved by God.  Not by our performance or goodness but only by the grace he lavishes out on us.  We also looked at the maturity process according to 1 John which seemed to have brought a new found freedom and excitement to the student’s faith.




Changing tact a bit we looked at “The Hour that changed the World”.  The life and discipline of prayer.  What an inspiring time as we unlocked important yet neglected aspects of prayer like waiting, watching, Scripture praying and listening.  So often we treat prayer like a one way communication.  We forget that Christianity is about relationship and God is eagerly communicating to us all day long, yet often we fail to take the direction that he is constantly giving to us.  As the Lord encourages us to take prayer more seriously and rely more on him we begin to dig deep into his Word taking a fresh look at its power and the importance of dividing it correctly.  The Word of God is powerful  but so many times we can limit its power by ripping it out of context and apply God’s word to our lives in ways the Lord never meant for us to do. 


By the end of the personal development section of the course we were tired – mentally, physically and emotionally spent yet God has been at work.  He has helped us become more secure in who we are in Christ.  He’s inspired us to not settle for the pleasures of the world but pursue Him and only Him.  He has given us a mission to preach and defend His Word with our whole being to our very last breath in his strength.  This as a class is what we desire to do.  This is the least we can do because Christ breathed his last for us!  To be continued.