Tributes flow for young minister killed in Vanuatu

Fulton graduation 2020. Lui Yarakei shakes hands with Pastor Maveni Kaufononga, TPUM president.

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The life of a promising young minister has been cut short as he returned home from Sabbath activities on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Lui Yarakei was an intern minister just starting his second year out of Fulton Adventist University College, Fiji, and was minister to the Biria, Fafarama, Surandah and Tutupa Seventh-day Adventist churches.

The funeral was held today (February 14) at the Sarakata Adventist church, Santo.

According to Vanuatu Daily Post, he was travelling home from church on Saturday evening on his motorbike when he was struck by a much larger vehicle and killed. The driver was drunk and police arrested the the driver at the scene. Mr Yarakei had sustained grave injuries and died on the way to hospital. Many ministers in the Pacific use a motorbike to travel between their churches as they often have multiple congregations to minister to.

Pastor Charlie Jimmy, president of Vanuatu Mission (VM) paid tribute to Mr Yarakei. “He was an outstanding young potential leader whom we (Vanuatu Mission) were anticipating to become a great leader in the ministerial work force.”

Minster Yarakei (centre front) with friends from his time at Fulton, Fiji.

“Furthermore, he was very passionate, committed and highly commended by his ministerial team, local church leaders and church members as a ‘Faithful Servant of God’.”

His promise as a leader was a common theme among other online tributes.

“We are really sorry to lose a young, energetic, vibrant minister so early [with all his] future ahead of him. We will truly miss him,” Pastor Max Senebe VM secretary shared on the VM Facebook page.

Many online tributes flowed from those who knew Mr Yarakei from his time at Fulton where he did a practical at Newtown church, home to the expat Vanuatuan community in Fiji . “We knew him well, and he stood out as a very promising leader, and well-loved by the youth in his short time since graduating from Fulton,” said former TPUM secretary Pastor Bob and his wife Anne Larsen.

Originally from Tanna, Mr Yarakei had written two feature articles for Adventist Record in the past two years “The journey of the dead” and “The Kingdom banquet” part of the Living Kingdom series on Jesus’ parables as well as a news update on the work going on at one of his churches.

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