The Seventh-day Adventist Church once again has a presence on Nikunau—one of the 16 atolls and coral islands forming the Gilbert Islands group in Kiribati.
Kiribati Mission president Pastor Luther Taniveke said the Adventist Church owned land where a church and a minister’s house were once located. But due to financial constraints no minister or lay person has been sent to the island for several years “so the church was deserted”, he said. “Many of [the members] became backsliders.”
When Pastor Taniveke became president earlier this year he was keen to see the gospel work resume on Nikunau so he sent a lay person, Tekarimwi Bitaa, to the island to build a temporary church.
“We bought him a chainsaw, which he used to cut coconut trees for timber,” Pastor Taniveke said. “With the timber he built a small church for his congregation. He will also put up a small house for a lay person to look after the church and a few members.”
Mr Bitaa located the former members and started conducting Bible studies and worshipping with them.
“I visited the island in the third week of November and we had a good time together studying the Bible and planning what we want to establish in Nikunau,” Pastor Taniveke said.
With financial support from the South Australian Conference—Kiribati Mission’s sister conference—Mr Bitaa is planning to begin theology studies at Fulton College (Fiji) next year so that when he returns to Nikunau he can help in the ministry there.