Church welcomes back breakaway groups

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Tanna, Vanuatu

More than 200 people from the Tafea District of Vanuatu were welcomed back to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in an emotional reconciliation ceremony held at Bethel Adventist church on Tanna island. 

. . . when God’s people humble themselves and confess their sins, miracles by the Holy Spirit become possible.

It had been 16 years since Kaio Timothy (senior) led a breakaway group in the district after being dis-fellowshipped from the Portoroki Adventist church in Port Vila.

In a short but emotional speech at the November 2 ceremony, Mr Timothy stressed the importance of unity as the Church looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

“There is only one Church,” said Mr Timothy with tears in his eyes, “and I urge all to become one and be united for the sake of our mission. Jesus is soon to come.”
 

Breakaway members with their leader at the reconciliation ceremony at Bethel Adventist church.

A number of Adventist church leaders were on hand to witness the special event, including Tafea District director Pastor Jonathan Moses and a number of representatives from the Beverly Hills, Portoroki and Epauto Adventist churches.

Also in attendance was Vanuatu Mission Global Mission director Pastor Kaio Timothy (junior), who witnessed his father and brothers spearhead the breakaway group in the late ‘90s.

Speaking on their return, Pastor Timothy said the reconciliation was a testament to the “power of the Holy Spirit to break down barriers and mend relationships”.

As part of the ceremony, Pastor Timothy read a reconciliatory speech on behalf of Vanuatu Mission president Pastor Nos Terry, who apologised to the breakaway group on behalf of the Church and expressed an invitation for them to return to the “mother church”.

Although the event was successful in bringing the two parties together, Pastor Timothy said there were doubts “even on Friday” whether it would actually happen, as previous attempts at reconciliation had failed.

“But when God’s people humble themselves and confess their sins, miracles by the Holy Spirit become possible,” said Pastor Timothy. “It happened in Port Vila and it’s still happening. It will happen elsewhere in Vanuatu with other breakaway groups.” 
 

Tanna village guests helped officiate the reconciliation ceremony on Tanna island.

One such group was the Baiap breakaway party of West Ambrym, which was welcomed back to the Church on the same day as the Tanna ceremony.

The reconciliation between the Church and the 15- to 20-member group took place after a weeklong revival meeting was held in Baiap village.

“We did not expect this to happen,” said Ampa District director Pastor Joshua Esau, who hosted the meeting. “But on Saturday when the church leaders approached the group and invited them to return to the mother church, they did not hesitate. It was as if they had already made up their mind to return and were just waiting for this opportunity.”

Plans are being made for a baptism to be held at Baiap village for returning members.

On November 5, Bethel Adventist church in Tanna held their first prayer combined meeting with members from the breakaway group. For years the two parties had been gathering at different churches separated by only 20 metres.