Greetings to all my Maranatha mates!
I returned 3 weeks ago from 8 thrilling, fulfilling days in Fiji – my second trip this year. My first was in January, when, like Abraham, I went by faith, not knowing where I was going. I ended up in a sleepy little village called Savutalele, nestled amongst the majestic mountains of the Tamavua Ridge, about 7 miles from Suva.
My mission in January was to work with the youth of Mount Olive SDA Church in Savutalele, encouraging and exhorting them in their faith and in the sharing of the Gospel. The short length of my trip still afforded many blessed moments, with opportunities to do health workshops, to embark on an exercise excursion to the local national park (Coroi-Suva), to take the youth doorknocking in their local community, and many more occasions of fellowship, sharing and outreach.
My April trip was also youth-focused – again, I had no real plans as to what I would do with them, but I was open and willing to follow God’s leading and direction. The direction he took me in was unanticipated yet abundantly blessed.
Upon my arrival, I was told that Mount Olive was holding a Youth Week of Prayer throughout the duration of my stay, and that I would be sharing with them for their hour-long morning devotions. Stunned into silence, thoughts scampered through my mind – I’m a teacher, not a preacher!...I’ve never preached before in my life…I haven’t even prepared anything…how am I going to speak for that long?...I’m not the right person for this…why would they ask me to share?!
Though my mind was unsettled about the whole ordeal, praise God that He gave me His peace that surpasses all understanding, and I committed to preparing for the 5am devotions. I would stay up late into the night and rise early in the morning, praying for God to reveal to me what He wanted His children to hear. He reminded me of experiences in my life that I could share with them, as well as Bible verses and principles that had helped me through those experiences. In particular, the 2nd Angel’s identity message, the Elijah message, and the Father and Son message were highlighted in my quiet time with God and I was able to share with the youth how these messages had changed my life. I urged them to consider their identity and in which kingdom they lived – God’s or Satan’s; I also spoke to them about Christian standards and not being conformed to the world; I shared my own family testimony, how the Father and Son message had opened my eyes to the domestic issues I had experienced, and in conjunction with the Elijah message, had also given me a Biblical model for family. The Lord blessed His work abundantly – His presence could be felt each morning as we started our days with Him as a group, and many in the community expressed the convictions God was placing on their hearts.
I already felt richly blessed just to share my testimony and help them to apply these principles practically in their lives, but God kept the best blessing of all until the very end. On the very last night of my trip, a young lady, Mary*, approached me and asked to speak to me in private. With tears flooding down her cheeks, she shared her experience of how she had been suspended from her university dorms for repeatedly getting drunk. Her suspension had sent her back to the village to stay with her family, and her return to Savutalele had been immediately followed by my arrival. On my first night in the village, I had shared a small part of my testimony in a group Bible study, briefly mentioning my background with alcohol and clubs. Mary was instantly intrigued at how similar my past life was to her present life, and she ended up coming to every youth program during the week. Though my pre-sharing preparation time had been very limited, the Lord had been doing something amazing in Mary’s heart as soon as the Week of Prayer started, and as the week continued, she had become more and more convicted that God had sent me there to speak to her. After a couple of hours of prayer and dialogue between us, she acknowledged that she truly is a precious daughter of God, and made the decision to re-accept Christ as her Saviour and to obey His commandments.
Mary’s (and others’) willingness to apply the Father and Son and Elijah messages practically in their lives was evidence to me that my lack of proper planning could never limit God – it was never about me anyway; it was all to the glory of God. Praise Him for the opportunity to serve Him and share His love – it has been the most satisfying experience of my life and I can’t wait to go back to Savutalele in July!
P.S. I just had an interesting experience that I think ties in really well with this entry, so I wanted to share it with you all!
I'm the Agriculture teacher at my school so I'm responsible for the school farm, where we care for chickens and rabbits. 2 chicks just hatched yesterday and today was their first adventure out of the nesting box into the wide outdoor chicken pen. As I fed the mother hen, one of the young chicks ventured into the neighbouring chicken pen (it is small enough to fit through the wire fence), then, realising it had wandered off from its mother, ran around the entire pen frantically trying to find her. When it realised she was not in the pen, it left the farm completely through the wire fence on the other side. In desperation, it ran all over the grass until it finally dashed into a forest of long overgrown grass. By this time I had run outside to chase and capture it and eventually found its tiny yellow feathered form hidden amongst the green. As I carried it against my body to reunite it with its mother, I thought of the anxiety that poor little chick had experienced when it realised the big wide world had nothing worthy to offer it, and its desperate desire to return to its mother. It made me think of the desperation on Mary's face when she told me how much she yearned to go back to being a servant of God. The joy I felt when mother hen and baby chick were brought back together was the same joy felt when I was able to share God's promise with Mary that God wants her not only as His servant but as His beloved daughter. I imagine it is the same joy and rejoicing that occurs in heaven when a prodigal son or daughter returns.