My story—Caleb Ripo

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I was born in the village of Nasenge, Guadalcanal. My mother was an Adventist, but my father was Roman Catholic. The different faiths made it hard for my six siblings and me growing up. We were confused as to whose religion to follow. After years of hard work, however, my mum finally convinced my father to become an Adventist.

I was named after a well-known missionary pioneer in the Solomon Islands. 

Building the school was a very big thing, because if you can reach the children you can reach the parents.

While I didn’t take notice of it at first, carrying the name of a missionary soon made me think I was supposed to head in the same direction. This feeling became clear after my baptism at 12 years of age. I wanted to be a pastor.

After completing Year 6, I had to quit school because I couldn’t pay the fees. While my formal education stopped, I was still determined to become a minister. I started performing the duties of a pastor at our church—preaching, teaching and visiting people—because we had no pastor. For training, I would go and assist other ministers and attend all the pastors’ and teachers’ meetings I could.

My family and I moved to Valasi because other pastors were called but weren’t willing to come. At first it was very difficult. This area of Guadalcanal is predominantly Catholic—there are no Adventists. When we arrived, the villagers were very suspicious of us and we found it hard to break down the barriers.

My wife, Jalenta, and I then decided to just be a friend to them, and eventually we were accepted. Building the school was a very big thing, because if you can reach the children you can reach the parents. The trust we had established with the local villagers allowed us to teach their children Adventist teachings. 

We’ve been in Valasi for four years. There is now another Adventist family here in our village. I am also having Bible studies with a young Roman Catholic teacher here at the school. My hope is that more people will come to the Adventist faith, and that Valasi will be a beacon of light for the rest of the region.