Avondale Memorial Church (Cooranbong, NSW) held a special ceremony to thank more than 130 missionaries past and present for their dedicated service and sacrifice across the South Pacific.
The August 3 program began with a Sabbath School introduction about how the Seventh-day Adventist Church began missionary work in the Pacific Islands. A mission-oriented study was then taken by three ex-missionaries and their wives.
A group of islanders from Sydney’s Wantok church then led the song service and performed musical items.
During the worship service, Carol Boehm, Adventist Volunteer Services coordinator for the South Pacific Division, spoke of the current support of mission services and the continuing need for service at home and abroad.
Dr Nako Tutuo then presented a sermon entitled “Was it worth it?”, which asked missionaries the question: “Was leaving family and friends, facing loneliness in a new environment, sometimes sickness or death, worth it?” The answer was yes.
Avondale Memorial senior church pastor Abel Iorgulescu urged the congregation to ask God what they can do to live out their mission and share God’s enduring love and saving grace.
Following the church service, an afternoon concert was presented by Pacific islanders from three churches as their way of thanking the missionaries and ex-missionaries living in the Cooranbong area.
Missionary work in the South Pacific Division began in 1873 when James White and John Loughborough sent a carton of books to Pitcairn Island. Thirteen years later, John I Tay, a retired ships carpenter, spent six weeks on Pitcairn to follow up these connections. Soon, the whole population were Sabbath-keepers and many were requesting baptism. In 1890, the mission ship Pitcairn embarked on its first of six missionary journeys, with pastors baptised 82 Pitcairn Islanders. This was the beginning of Pacific islanders becoming Adventist missionaries.
By reflecting on some of this history during the special service, it is hoped that future missionaries will be inspired to take the gospel throughout Australia and overseas.