Bringing Hope during lockdown

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Thousands watched Pastor Maveni Kaufononga's sermon last Sabbath.

In the midst of coronavirus lockdowns in Fiji, thousands of people are watching Hope Channel.

“The Hope team at the [Fiji] Mission have gone into ‘Hope At Home’ mode in regard to turning out programs for Sabbath and for Sundays as well,” said Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) communication coordinator John Tausere.

“[TPUM president] Pastor Maveni [Kaufononga] preached last Sabbath—that was viewed by thousands who were watching via [free-to-air] television and also on Youtube and Facebook.

“So that’s a positive side to the whole thing in regards to getting church into homes and using Hope Channel has been a blessing for the Church here during this time.”

On Sundays, there’s programs in both English and Hindi.

“There’s been an intentional approach in regards to our Hindi population,” Mr Tausere said. “This is a time where they are looking for hope—they don’t know what’s happening in regard to this pandemic and other calamities. The Hope team has looked at this as an avenue where we are reaching into the homes of our Indian friends with programs of peace, of hope.”

Since April 26, the majority of Fiji’s population has been in lockdown due to the introduction of containment zones across the country’s main island, Viti Levu, after several recent coronavirus cases in the country. Movement is restricted to essential purposes only. Churches and schools are closed, and staff from the Union and Mission offices have been working from home.

Pastor Kaufononga said the TPUM team are in good spirits. “I am very happy with that, we are able to continue moving our work forward,” he said.

“We need prayers, I hope this is contained soon so we can be back at work. Zoom can do so much but there’s nothing like actually working with your colleagues face to face.”

Masks have been introduced at Fulton Adventist University College. (Credit: Fulton College Facebook page)

At Fulton Adventist University College, all face-to-face classes have been suspended, and students and lecturers have reverted to online learning.

Principal Dr Malcolm Coulson said Fulton has activated its COVID-Safe Plan, which has been approved by the Fiji Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Fiji Higher Education Commission (FHEC).

“We are not permitted to conduct church services or for students to play sport,” Dr Coulson said. “Hope At Home is broadcast on Sabbaths and this program is a great blessing, not just to our campus, but to the whole country since Hope Channel is part of the national television network.

“We have had six students who either had an illness with cold symptoms, or had been identified by the MOH contact tracing program, or have travelled from another containment zone.

“Each of those students has been isolated by using our transit accommodation. Testing of three of those students was deemed a useful precaution by MOH staff and the tests have come back negative.

“The main thing we need right now is to persevere through the lockdown and to avoid breaching our ‘campus bubble’.”

Fiji Mission education director Kelera Suka said there is no confirmed date when school classes will resume but there have been positives out of the lockdown.

“I believe that this lockdown period allows opportunities for families to spend quality time together, and children are taught skills and valuable lessons from their parents in their daily interactions,” Ms Suka said. “These are often neglected because of so many other commitments outside of the home.”