The South Pacific Division, while small in membership, occupies a large geographical area. The majority of our members are scattered across thousands of Pacific islands and 20 million square miles of ocean.
Taking the gospel to the islands was always a part of God’s purpose (Isa. 42:10-12). The Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys visited the islands of the Mediterranean and established churches. Since Paul’s day the gospel message has spread far in accordance with Jesus’ mandate to take it to every nation.
The islands of the South Pacific did not receive their first missionary visit until 1796 when the London Missionary Society sent Captain James Wilson to Tahiti. At this time the Pacific islands were not safe or welcoming of missionaries. It was reported, “Nowhere in the world have missionaries passed through experiences so tragic . . . and nowhere in the world have the triumphs of the gospel been more clear and complete.”
Many missionaries gave their lives for the gospel. Things looked so grim that at one point consideration was given by the Society to withdraw from the Pacific. But after earnest prayer, instead of letters of recall, letters of encouragement were sent to those on the front lines in the Pacific. The work of God prevailed and often, through miraculous events, God opened the way for the entry of the gospel. As a result of faithfulness and perseverance, island after island accepted the gospel. The work of Adventist Mission in the Pacific has also seen success under similar circumstances.
On October 18,1886, an Adventist layman named John Tay began the Church’s first missionary work in the South Pacific on an island called Pitcairn. After five weeks he returned to the United States, with a request from the new converts to the Church to send a pastor to baptise them.
The church built a ship called the Pitcairn, which carried missionaries to Pitcairn Island to establish the Adventist work.
Over the next 70 years missionaries would enter new areas to claim the Pacific for Christ. This gospel of Jesus has had a major impact on the lives of Pacific island people. The way of blood and death has been replaced by love for Christ and care for others. Where there was once only fear there is now hope and peace.
However, this work is still a long way from being completed. Global Mission is providing opportunities to reach many unentered areas. For example, Nauru is a Global Mission project that commenced in 2009. This is the world’s smallest island nation, covering just 21 km in the Micronesian South Pacific. The nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in the Republic of Kiribati, 300 km due east. Because we don’t have a physical presence the law of the land does not permit us as a church to be involved in evangelism of any sort. We are not permitted to conduct public meetings until we establish a physical presence by having a church building and a resident minister.
Through Global Mission funding we have been able to place a full-time minister on the island and are negotiating to purchase land for a church building. The minister is working to follow up interests and is giving Bible studies. The number of members and interested people attending each Sabbath is growing.
More than 50 projects reported a combined total of 435 baptisms last year. Another 462 people are preparing for baptism. However, much more can be done and there are many project requests to which we must respond, “Sorry, we can’t help this year because of lack of funds.”
Thank you for your support of the weekly mission offerings and Global Mission. Your prayers and financial contributions help reach the unreached with hope, including those who live within the South Pacific Division.
Adventist Mission Director, South Pacific Division
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