My wife Watiri and I were sitting with key Church leaders in Fiji. Archbishop Winston Halapua introduced us and then exclaimed: “What is it that Africa has that we don’t have?” As he continued to explain the taonga (gift) of the people of the South Pacific and compare it with Africa, I considered the many similarities between African and South Pacific culture: the sense of community, natural disasters like floods, squatter issues, dependence on Western funding. And yet we may not have leveraged the potential similarities for the gospel. Watiri and I were able to bridge this gap, providing Samaritan Strategy training to those leaders, and we were amazed by the way they related with the stories we shared.
New Zealand is often seen as the gateway to the Pacific region. We’ve come to realise that, just as New Zealand has a reasonability to assist Pacific nations wherever possible, so do we as NZCMS. But what is our role in the South Pacific – in Melanesia and Polynesia? Should we be sending them more long-term missionaries? Should we be sending them more resources? While there is certainly a place for these things, we are in a position as NZCMS to offer something even deeper. The Pacific already has a well-established church – I believe what is most needed now is solid leadership training. We hope to continue providing training to leaders throughout the region, equipping them to do God’s missional work for themselves, discipling their own nations according to biblical principles.
Over the last eight months, NZCMS has delivered Samaritan Strategy training in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand. The results have been beyond our expectations. Space only allows me to mention one story from each location. 200 leaders in Papua New Guinea (Dogura Diocese) were trained, and one group is exploring how to use alternative methods of livelihoods (e.g. agriculture instead of fishing) for the benefit of the community. 30 leaders were trained in Fiji (including clergy from the Diocese of Polynesia), and one pastor developed a vision for the unemployed youth in his community. 70 Tikanga Maori leaders were trained, and one of the groups – Mission Rohe te Tai Hauauru – developed a plan to have the gospel shared in the Te Kawau Maro Maniapoto Festival which will involve 57 Marae! Plans are underway to train leaders in Samoa this September 2014 and 150 youth leaders in Tonga in December.
We continue to receive requests for Samaritan Strategy training in South Pacific. The next step is to train up trainers and facilitators who can fulfil this demand. That is why the DNA conference in November in Manukau is crucial. Please pray and consider who you could approach to come along. This will enable us as NZCMS to fulfil our calling to disciple the South Pacific.
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