“Stay away from sharps, other people’s bodily fluids, and don’t get excessively close to patients—particularly the ones with TB.” These were the instructions given to South Pacific Division (SPD) leaders as they headed off to Lautoka Hospital to provide practical service to the people of Fiji (read more about Lautoka Hospital at the end of this article).
We need to get out of our offices and be the real gospel in action!
Before they left, Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) president Pastor Maveni Kaufononga announced, “We have caps for everyone to wear that say ‘Jesus in the Hospital’ on them. This cap give you entrance to where we will be working.”
With a twinkle in his eye, he added, “So wear these hats, and even if your face doesn’t show you love Jesus, at least your cap will!” Everyone laughed along with him. Why? Because when you’re serving others, it’s hard for your face not to show it.
Here is what some of the SPD leaders had to say about the service day:
Pastor Terry Johnson, Western Australia Conference president: “We can’t just sit in meetings all day talking about Jesus without being His healing hands. I met this wonderful couple who were here for a prenatal check, and they were beaming. They said they were proud to say they were Adventists because of what they saw their leaders doing in the hospital.”
Thomas Ariku, Sepik Mission chief financial officer: “The first stage of discipleship is seed planting. We, as leaders, need to practise it before we teach it. So it was really impressive to see all our leaders taking part in this service. This has given us ideas of what we can do when we get home.”
Pastor Benjamin Asa, Solomon Islands Mission secretary: “For me, when I help others, and see them being happy, it makes me as happy as well. It’s the heart of Christianity. Simply following the example of Jesus, for me, that’s what this is all about. And you can see the faces of the people in the hospital. They thanked us—it was beautiful.”
Pastor Samuel Mollen, Western Solomon Islands Mission secretary: “I’m really impressed. It is good for us to actually interact with the hospital staff and patients. It’s just a little thing. But the important thing is for us to share a little of Jesus with those we meet and each other. I have really enjoyed the spirit of working together. Maybe next time we’ll collect rubbish, or something else practical. It’s good that everyone is coming together, staying together, eating together—it’s unity, oneness. I feel God’s Spirit moving. God is in the midst, we stand together as family in the same service.”
Pastor Enosh Enopa, Morobe Mission secretary: “We’ve been telling the church members to serve others. But we need to be the ones to do it. We need to lead by example. We need to get out of our offices and be the real gospel in action!”
Pastor Lionel Smith, SPD general secretary: “The service day idea came from the General Conference where they did a service project during their leadership meetings. And we thought, wouldn’t it be good for us to do that as well. It’s an opportunity to change focus from meeting and strategy to getting out and serving. It creates a completely different dynamic. The emphasis of this week is that we should be making disciples. And for that, we have to serve others. So this is just a taste of where we want to go as leaders, and as a Church.”
Nelson Karis, Madang Manus Mission treasurer: “The service is meaningful—it’s giving back something to the community. It’s good for us. And it’s a witness to the community.”
Anthony (Tony) Williams, Avondale College vice president (Academic & Research): “It was great to break up the intellectual side of things, and actually do a little bit of practice. The physical aspect was great as well.”
Pastor Edward Tupai, North New Zealand Conference lead pastor (pointing at Tony): “Mate, this guy is a real trooper—he just didn’t stop. I’m from NZ. When it goes over 20 degrees, we have to take a break, but Tony, he just kept working in the hot sun! (Laughs with Tony). We got to work with a lot of people from all over our region. And everyone got on so well—unified to get the job done. We were told it was finished. But our team said ‘It’s not finished ‘til it’s totally finished’. We all kept going to get the job done right. And the guys were just so happy!”
About Lautoka Hospital
From an interview with Kelera Batibasaga, Lautoka Hospital administrator.
“This is a 300-bed hospital with over 800 staff, about 50 per cent of whom are nurses. This hospital is managed by the medical superintendent—a physician—and my position is to manage all the services. This is the main referral hospital for the western division of Fiji—including the islands in the west. Maternal health, general surgery, orthopedic team, pediatric, diabetic hub, kidney dialysis, we also have an oncology patients and general medicine. The urology and cath lab are in Suva.
“We regularly receive airlifted patients from the islands. We follow standard procedures to determine who needs to be airlifted, who can come by boat and who can be treated on their home island.
“We have private doctors in our region, but there aren’t any private hospitals like we have in Suva.
“For cardiac surgery, we have teams come to Fiji from Australia and New Zealand. We want to do more complex scanning on site. We have a CT scan, but we need to upgrade as we can’t store images externally. This makes it hard when patients go to specialists or overseas. We’re increasingly specialised physicians, but we need to upgrade our infrastructure. Healthcare is provided by the government in Fiji, but you can go into a paying ward, if you’d prefer that to the general ward. However, dental services for those over 15 years old are not covered. But the charges here in Fiji are very low. We have people coming here from overseas for dental work.
“We’re currently building four new operating theatres and a new emergency department. We expect them to be outfitted with state of the art equipment.”