Address at the Official Opening of the Fiji Mission of the Seventh Day Adventist Church Quinquennial Business Sessions
January 27, 2021 Suva Civic Auditorium.
The President of the Trans Pacific Union Mission, Pastor Maveni Kaufononga;
The President of the Fiji Mission Seventh-Day Adventist Church,
Pastor Nasoni Lutunaliwa;
Senior Executives of the Church;
Fellow Members, Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Noa’ia ’e Mauri and a very Good Morning to you all – and as we are in the final week of January, I believe it is also proper that I wish you all, our brothers and sisters in Christ from throughout Fiji and the region our greetings and felicitations for the New Year and wish each and everyone here, present and not forgetting your families and congregations a Very Blessed, Peaceful and Fruitful 2021.
At the outset, please allow me to acknowledge and thank Pastor Nasoni Lutunaliwa, The President of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Fiji Mission and The Elders of The Church for kindly inviting my wife, Sarote and I to today’s Official Opening of the SDA’s 16th Quinquennial Business Session of The Church.
In fact, I deem it a great honour and privilege indeed to be Officiating as Chief Guest in this momentous and historical milestone of the SDA Church in Fiji.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is also a great pleasure to be back amongst the members of the SDA Church leadership for I fondly recall the last time I was invited to open this important Forum in 2015, in my capacity as a Government Minister for Employment, Industrial Relations and Productivity and a relatively new member of the SDA Church.
At this juncture, I believe it prudent that I humbly acknowledge, commend and thank with deep appreciation and respect the Management, Officials and The Church Family for according my wife and I with the traditional i Taukei Welcoming Ceremony which was conducted with such pomp and pride by the participants. – Sa Vinaka Vakalevu na Veiciqomi kei na Veivakaturagataki!
Ladies and gentlemen, this Quinquennial Forum is a very critical and important facet of our Church during this very challenging, unpredictable and uncertain times with its primary focus and aim to; Elect Departmental Leaders, and Members of The Executive Committee who will govern and oversee the Function and proper Administration of The SDA Church for the next five years.
In this regard, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our 400 delegates from around different parts of Fiji and the Region and thank you for your attendance for this is an ideal time and opportunity to meet one another, but more importantly listen to your views and recommendations on how to preserve and improve The Church Members’ individual and collective Spiritual lives.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my humble opinion that now is a good time too to pause, reflect and re-dedicate ourselves in our “Journey to Salvation”, and in this regard, I commend our Leaders for selecting this Forum’s Theme; “I WILL GO” which I believe to be timely and apt, given today’s secular tendencies and aversion to Christian beliefs and traits, locally, regionally and sadly, globally too!
From a spiritual perspective, this is a very strong statement indeed if we take it literally to mean “Going With Jesus”, and I am certain that this is what our Church Leaders want us to seriously consider and debate during your deliberations within the next few days?
Yesterday, I accepted the traditional i Tatau of our newly formed Kaiviti Silktails Fiji Rugby League Team in my capacity as President and the Patron of Rugby League Fiji and reminded the Officials and Team Members in no uncertain terms that despite the present, prevailing and unprecedented socio-political and economical trauma and ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the recent widespread devastation wreaked by Severe Tropical Cyclone YASA to the northern parts of Fiji, I am convinced that with Almighty God’s Love, Mercies and Blessings – We will Overcome!
For your information, the latest statistics are both very worrying and frightening indeed as, regrettably about 100,285,517 have contracted the Virus and sadly, 2,149,461 personnel had succumbed to its deadly impact worldwide.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know we are now living in The End Times as clearly depicted in Revelations of The Bible – and as Adventists it is hightime to re-dedicate ourselves as Good Christians and strengthen our Faith, Belief and Trust in The Lord, for He alone is our Salvation and Answer to all our worldly woes and predicaments.
Last week, my Staff and I visited our fellow Fijians in the Northern Division – the Tropical Cyclone YASA stricken areas within the provinces of Bua and Macuata, and witnessed firsthand the widespread devastation to properties and infrastructure.
To date the estimated total cost of the extensive damage caused by TC YASA is still being assessed, but the Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that within the Sector alone about $150million worth of crops had been damaged.
Ladies and gentlemen, in view of today’s worldly challenges which seriously threatens Humanity’s socio-political and economical survival, I strongly believe that this 16th SDA Quinquennial Meeting is most important to charter the proper path/way forward and future of The Church in addressing these challenges.
May I thank you once again for kindly inviting me to address you, not so much in my capacity as Your President/Head of State, but more so as a Church Member and humbly request and urge you all to remain focussed on the Theme, “I WILL GO” and ensure that the Final Outcome of you deliberations will embolden us to remain Righteous, Faithful and Steadfast in our ‘Walk with Jesus’ towards His Salvation.
As an aside, Ladies and gentlemen, may I digress a little bit and remind you of my other responsibilities as Your President. In accordance with our SDA Doctrine and in promoting The Health Message, I gladly accepted Government’s request that I Champion its ‘Wellness Programme’ by becoming its Chief Advocate.
In this regard, my wife and I, together with most members of The State House Staff wake up very early each morning (except Sabbath) and begin our day with a 5 x Km walk/run either along the My Suva Park foreshore or within the State House Compound and also around Albert Park.
On Fridays we test our fitness and endurance by going for a 5/7Km Pack Walk up into the Namosi Hills through the Nabukavesi Rural Road network.
In addition to this my Team of Security personnel have been ‘decorating’ the State House compounds here in Suva, Taunovo/Navua and Lautoka with our patches of Dalo, Tavioka, Kumala, Yams and Bananas. In fact, we are self-sustainable in terms of Food Security and again this is our contribution towards promoting Government’s initiative of Backyard Gardening/Farming.
I welcome our school children in particular to visit the State House during the School Holidays and for those of you who are interested in farming, we would like you to accompany your Children on these visits – so we can compare notes?
Furthermore, may I also thank you for your prayers and good wishes for our Beloved Fiji and its People – and Humanity as a whole. I wish you well and every success as you continue with your deliberations for the next three days and may The Lord grant you His wisdom and intellect to guide you in your very important work.
Thank you once again and may Almighty God continue to “Shine His Face” on our Nation and People and Bless us all.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Faiak’sea!