The APBF is a big, big family! Representing APBF, last year I have visited Fiji (twice), Nagaland (India), Assam (India), Vanuatu, Vietnam, Washington DC, Vancouver, Dubai, Indonesia and Hawaii. It is a privilege to speak and share on behalf of the APBF across our region, and to represent APBF at the Executive and BWA General Council meetings.
We are a big family, but we are one in Christ. Together we must stay strong, listen to God’s voice and proclaim and serve Christ.
Let me share something about my recent visit to Fiji and Vanuatu. I visited the Fiji Baptist Convention (FBC) leaders with Dr. Les Fussell (acting treasurer of APBF and international aid consultant). We followed up on initiatives raised during the Pacific Baptist Form in February. We were also there to encourage FBC in their response to assisting communities after the devastation of Cyclone Winston. We visited the village of Napoultolu in the Northeast of the main island of Fiji. This area bore the full brunt of Cyclone Winston. Pastor Laveti Fatai, of FBC is shepherding a small Baptist community in Napoutolu. While only one child was hurt in the cyclone, as the villages sheltered in the cyclone proof community centre, of the 40 house in the village, 38 were destroyed. The village has decided to rebuild 30 houses. Operation Foundation (Peter Schultz and Australia’s missionary in prison ministry in Fiji) is rebuilding thirty houses and mentoring / capacity enhancing FBC in the process.
In addition to this, Peter has raised the funding from Baptist churches in Australia. The houses are being prefabricated in Australia and shipped to Fiji. A group of 30 volunteers from Australian Baptist churches went to help build the first 15 with the help of the locals in the third week in October 2016.
Also, FBC leadership has engaged in Trauma counselling. It was a joy to be with President Peni Dolavale, Joseph Gavidi, the General Secretary of the Fiji Baptist Convention, Mesake Tunidau, the immediate Past President of the FBC and Fine Tagi Dakota, Coordinator.
I then travelled to Vanuatu with Dr. Les Fussell and Dr. Miyon Chung to follow-up on initiatives raised during the Pacific Baptist Form, including their desire to seek membership of the APBF as well as for Dr. Miyon Chung to undertake a 3 1/2 day theological training on the “Marks of the Effective Church”. Les also met with the head of Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) to understand how the funding that APBAid had provided to Transform Aid International (Baptist World Aid Australia) to support the VCC disaster relief projects after the super cyclone Pam (March 2015).
We had wonderful meetings with Pastor Kalo Kaltabang and his wife, Mary and his team of Baptist leaders in Vanuatu. Together we are part of God’s big APBF Family.
Written by Rev. Dr. Ross Clifford