I had a very difficult early family life. I was adopted by my uncle—my mum’s brother. He and his wife had no children.
I only found out I was adopted when I was seven years old. I was very surprised. When I was nine, my adoptive parents separated. I stayed with my adoptive mum even though she was not biologically related to me. She was heartbroken when my dad left.
My wife and I have three daughters. One of them is adopted just like I was . . . From my hardship, I always aimed to treat her with the same love and care as my biological daughters. Just like my mum treated me.
I couldn’t go to public school as I didn’t have a birth certificate, which was required at the time. At nine years old, I went into Grade 2 at the Adventist school. It was the only school that would accept me even though I came from a Catholic family.
As I grew up I remained Catholic—I was the only Catholic in my class. But the Bible classes and worships made a very big impact on me. In grade 8 I gave my life to God and was baptised into the Adventist Church.
After my adoptive parents separated, we were desperate to survive. My adoptive mum had to work. She had high expectations as I was her only child. She gave everything to put me through school.
She was happy when I joined the Church as there was a lot of peer pressure in my village to get into bad things. So it was a move away from that.
In the last years of her life my mum followed me into the Adventist Church. She decided to get baptised but tragically she died beforehand.
I thought about becoming a lawyer but I couldn’t afford the fees. So I had to leave school in grade 10.
In 1992 I went to a layman’s school and that gave me a desire to be a pastor. I felt the call of God. I felt small, as I hadn’t finished high school. But in 1995 I enrolled in Fulton College.
Now I’m the district director for Fiji’s Nadi District. We have three pastors in this district, 18 churches that meet in three languages—Fijian, Hindi and English.
I’m a dad now myself. I love my children and I’m determined that they don’t go through what I did. My wife and I have three daughters. One of them is adopted just like I was. She was my niece. She’s 23 years old now. From my hardship, I always aimed to treat her with the same love and care as my biological daughters. Just like my mum treated me.
I loved my mum very much and I still miss her today.—with James Standish