We Are the Sort Who Have Faith
Announcing God’s Kingdom in the Islands of Fiji
JESUS CHRIST once spoke of two roads. One is spacious and leads off into death. The other is cramped but leads off into life. (Matthew 7:13, 14) To enable people to choose the right road, Jehovah God purposed that the good news of the Kingdom be preached in all the world. (Matthew 24:14) Hence, people everywhere are listening to the Kingdom message, and some are choosing life by becoming “the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:39) We invite you to read of the choice for life made by some in Fiji and other nearby islands of the South Pacific.
They Trusted in Jehovah
Mere was still a schoolgirl when she first heard the Kingdom message in 1964. Because of her isolation on a remote island, she had little contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually, however, she was able to gain an accurate knowledge of the Bible. By that time, she was married to a man who was a clan head in his village. As a result of Mere’s choice to live by Bible principles, her husband and his relatives treated her cruelly, and fellow villagers snubbed her. Nevertheless, she was baptized in 1991.
Shortly thereafter, Mere’s husband, Josua, softened in his attitude and even started to sit in on Bible discussions that Mere had with their children. Josua stopped attending the Methodist Church. As a chief, though, he still presided at weekly village meetings. In the eyes of the villagers, Josua was disloyal, for the Methodist Church was an integral part of Fijian village life. Hence, the local pastor urged Josua to return to his former religion.
Josua courageously affirmed that he and his family had made their choice and were determined to worship Jehovah God “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) At a subsequent village meeting, the paramount chief ruled that Josua and his family depart from the village as outcasts. They were given seven days to leave the island and their house, land, and crops—yes, their whole livelihood.
Spiritual brothers on another island came to the assistance of Josua and his family, helping them with a place to stay and land on which to grow crops. Josua and his eldest son are now baptized, and another son serves as an unbaptized publisher of the good news. Mere recently enrolled as a regular pioneer (a full-time Kingdom proclaimer). Their choice to serve Jehovah resulted in a loss of position and material goods, but like the apostle Paul, they consider this as nothing compared to what they have gained.—Philippians 3:8.
A Choice Involving Conscience
Choosing to follow a Bible-trained conscience requires faith and courage. This certainly was the case with newly baptized Suraang, a young woman living on Tarawa, one of the islands of Kiribati. Suraang requested permission to be excused from one aspect of her work as a nurse at the hospital. Her request was not received favorably, resulting in her being sent to care for the small medical center on an isolated island where she was cut off from others of her faith.
On that island it is customary for all new arrivals to make an offering to the local “spirit.” The people believe that failure to do so will result in death. Since Suraang refused to allow this act of idolatry to be performed for her and her party, the villagers waited for her to be strangled by the offended spirit. When no harm came to Suraang or her party, many opportunities opened up for her to give a fine witness.
But Suraang’s tests were not over. Some of the young men of that island consider it a challenge to seduce young women who visit. However, Suraang resisted their advances and kept her integrity to God. In fact, she was able to serve as a regular pioneer, even though she was on call as a nurse 24 hours a day.
Prior to a feast held in Suraang’s honor when she was preparing to leave the island, the village elders stated that she was the first real missionary to visit them. Because of her firm stand for Bible principles, others on that island have responded favorably to the Kingdom message.
The isolation of some villages means that Jehovah’s people have to put forth great effort to share in the ministry and to attend Christian meetings. Consider the example of four baptized Witnesses—one man and three women—who spend hours traveling to and from the meetings. Their hike involves three river crossings each way. When the water is high, the brother swims across first, towing a large cooking pot containing their bags, books, and meeting clothes. Then he swims back to help the three sisters.
Another small group, who attend the meetings on the remote island of Nonouti in Kiribati, meet different challenges. The house in which they meet holds only seven or eight people. Others attending sit outside and peer in through its chicken-wire walls. The meeting place is in full view of other villagers coming from and going to their impressive churches. Of course, Jehovah’s servants realize that people, not buildings, are what are truly desirable from God’s point of view. (Haggai 2:7) The one baptized sister on the island is elderly and cannot walk far. Yet, she is helped in the ministry by a young woman, an unbaptized publisher who pushes her around in a handcart. What appreciation they show for the truth!
The more than 2,100 publishers serving in Fiji and Kiribati are determined to continue announcing the good news of God’s Kingdom. And they are confident that many more will yet become “the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”
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