Local missions within the Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) recently released their mid-yearly reports, with updates centered on local churches’ responses to COVID-19 and current outreach initiatives preparing for the “pentecostal harvest” scheduled for July.
Here is a summary.
The TPUM is currently training young people for their July harvest, with 22 interns working throughout the mission. Books and resources are waiting to be sent to local missions when restrictions are lifted.
Significantly, funding has been requested for a new ministerial database as the existing one is difficult to use and requires a redesign.
In addition, 13 projects and eight Global Mission projects within TPUM have been approved by the SPD.
Atoifi Hospital (Solomon Islands)
Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, Atoifi was forced to suspend nursing classes and students returned home, which has been a financial strain. Despite this, the New Zealand High Commission in Honiara have donated 250 chairs and 37 tables for the facility’s new dining hall.
Additionally, doctors have been giving presentations to local villages to answer questions about COVID-19 and provide health education.
Local churches, schools and offices in Fiji have been closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
On February 14, church leaders sat in Fiji’s appeals court to consider whether the Church has the right to appoint Adventist-only principals in their schools. While the government argued in the negative, the Church’s lawyers presented biblically-based arguments and referenced religious liberty clauses in Fiji’s nations constitution. The judgment is still being decided.
Fiji has suffered three tropical cyclones this year. Although buildings and crops have been severely damaged, there was no loss of life. Poor weather conditions also did not threaten the mission-wide launch of the World Changers Bible in February.
Preceding the pentecostal harvest planned for July, Fiji Mission launched their three-week televised evangelistic campaign on May 24 featuring young preacher Samu Koro. The series has been receiving overwhelming engagement.
Finally, Fiji Mission’s “Hope Clinic” wellness centre and cafe will open its doors in the heart of Suva at the end of May. This will complement their Hope Book City Shop which sells resources and Sanitarium projects.
Fulton University College (Fiji)
Although enrollments currently sit at 377 full time students (up 14 from last year), Fulton is facing financial uncertainty as a result of COVID-19.
Many students have been forced to unenroll or return home, forcing the university to return $FJD68,000 of fees back to students. In addition, funds ordinarily donated by parents, guardians and sponsors have slowed and the Fiji Government has reduced its grant by $FJD20,000, or 14 per cent.
Despite this, 10 students have been baptised so far this year, with an additional 15 requesting Bible studies and 161 enrolled in Sabbath School classes.
Despite no official virus cases in Kiribati and no lockdown measures, COVID-19 has created widespread fear, with the government declaring a State of Emergency (SOE). This has now been lifted.
Currently, the mission is focussing on training young people in preparation for the pentecostal harvest in July. From February 3 to 9, a team from TPUM conducted training for youth preachers and World Changers Bible training for about 60 young people at Korobu Adventist Church. From February 26 to March 3, Kiribati Mission’s youth director conducted training for 30 young people on Christmas Island (Kiritimati).
On Global Youth Day (March 21), young people went into the community to gather hundreds of signatures for ADRA’s “Every Child. Everywhere. In School.” campaign.
Similarly, throughout May, young people have been visiting households of those listening to Hope FM programs and registering interest in Bible studies. Many young people also present the programs on Hope FM radio, sharing Bible messages, and health and wellness tips.
Samoa and Tokelau Mission
The Samoa Government implemented a SOE on March 22, which has been extended to July 4. Although the mission has experienced a shortfall in offerings, leaders are excited to be more active in the media space, live-streaming Sabbath school lessons and sermons through the mission website, Facebook and YouTube.
Solomon Islands Mission
No official cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Solomon Islands, however the government still issued a SOE and extended it until the end of July. There are no bans on social gatherings so churches can operate as normal.
Despite this, widespread fear caused people to ignore Cyclone Harold warnings—which hit on April 2—preferring instead to remain at sea during a cyclone than set foot on potentially-infectious land.
In February, youth training was conducted by TPUM for more than 350 young people. They have been sent into villages and communities to prepare for the July harvest this year.
In addition, 14 groups of young people are preaching for Hope Channel as part of their “Elijah Project”, which is streamed live through YouTube and Facebook.
In Tonga, restrictions on social gatherings have caused people to worship at home. A major highlight for the mission is the completion of the new Hope Studio, located in the old mission office in Mangaia. The studio, labelled as a “timely blessing”, has allowed pastors and departmental leaders to prerecord sermons and devotions.
The mission enjoyed the General Conference’s 100 Days of Prayer initiative, translated in Tongan thanks to the work of the mission’s prayer coordinator.
Vanuatu was worst hit by Cyclone Harold, which destroyed more than 40 churches and damaged 10 schools. In response, church administration has shifted the country’s harvest program to August instead of July.
The widespread destruction has impacted tithe significantly, with members only returning 70 per cent of the amount returned from January to March last year.
Church leaders have praised ADRA for their involvement in getting the country back in its feet.
To watch the full reports, you can access TPUM’s YouTube playlist.