Every year, the leadership and faculty of The College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji (also known as Fiji Bible College) pray fervently for the students that the Lord will bring to receive pastoral training. Each of these student’s personal testimonies of how they came to the Bible college is extraordinary and demonstrates the wonderful providence of God.
I would like to introduce you to Philip (currently in his 3rd year) from the Solomon Islands. Philip is one of the few students that has come to the Bible college with his family. We are praying that as the Lord provides funds for additional married student housing, more pastors like Philip will be able to receive training at Fiji Bible College. I asked Philip several questions that will help you gain a better understanding of the nations among the South Pacific and how to pray for him and the people in the Solomon Islands.
Tell us a little bit about what life is like in the Solomon Islands?
“Our society is easy going and there is not much to worry about. Most of the people in the Solomon Islands (approximately 80%) live on subsistence farming. They don’t need money because they have their own gardens. It affects how they live. It is a developing country. When it comes to Christianity, people are very passionate. The sad thing is that they have passion without knowledge. Because of their passion they consume anything, so when the false gospel comes in, they jump into it. Christianity came about 150 years ago and they have only grown (spiritually) a small amount. America has brought much of the prosperity gospel to the Solomon Islands. The truth of the gospel is lacking. I don’t think any church in the Solomon Islands has all of the truth of the whole counsel of God. There is a great opportunity among young people and they are receptive to biblical teaching, but many have been led astray.”
What is the background of Christianity in the Solomon Islands?
“Pagan, mysticism, and ancestor worship. The gospel came through Tahiti and these other nations and went right past the Solomon Islands. Many of the first missionaries went to Vanuatu first and were killed and eaten. The Roman Catholics came to the Solomon Islands and did not have the truth of the gospel. Back in 1568, there was an explorer and the Roman Catholics tried to baptize the people forcefully, but the explorer died. The bishop came later and was killed in the Solomon Islands. Years later, Australians stole many people from the Solomon Islands to work in their fields. One of the men who was stolen became the founder of the church in the Solomon Islands. He was brought to a plantation in Australia. There was a young women whose parents were from the puritan movement. She saw an opportunity to share the gospel with the laborers in Australia. Her name was Florence Young and she became a missionary in her brothers plantation. (This particular Solomon islander was saved through her efforts during his time on the plantation). When Australia banned slavery, he returned to the Solomon Islands and his life was threatened because his family rejected the gospel, but through this the foundation of the church was laid.”
Describe your church in the Solomon Islands:
“Our church holds Sunday services morning and evening. The youth ministry meets on Wednesday and other ministries have evening meetings. When they come for Sunday service, they can listen for an hour. When they come for biblical counseling they can sit for hours. Our church has a seating capacity of 500-1,000, but over a thousand show up so many people sit outside. We are an elder lead church with 12 elders and 10 deacons. We are currently trying to figure out membership.”
“The local church has (also) been engaging in its local mission to a pagan community within the interiors of one the provinces of Solomon Islands (Malaita). These pagan communities are a few that still don’t give in to the gospel message despite Christianity’s presence on the islands for 100 plus years. Even civilization do not have any impact on them, as they still live like their forefathers for thousands of years, placing only a single leaf to cover their fronts for married couples, whilst the rest with no covering at all. After about 5 years of engagement with this pagan communities, by God’s grace a small Christian community of 13 homes or 13 families have been established and people are still coming. Please remember Pastor Jethro Siofa’a who heeded God’s call 5 years ago and left the comfort of his home and family on the coastal areas and went inland by trekking 6-7 mountains and since have been living with them and pastoring these newly converts.”
What type of ministry were you involved with there?
“I was a pastor and chaplain to three high schools and would do counseling for the students. I then became a full-time pastor and spent much of my time Monday through Saturday doing counseling, but I did not have all of the truth. I wish I would have known then what I know now.”
How did you find out about Fiji Bible College?
“I was praying to attend a raw Bible college where I would only learn the truth of the Bible. I did not want there to be a focus on secondary doctrines or a denominational Bible college. I had an opportunity to attend a few Bible colleges in the Solomon Islands, but there was limited guidance and mere interpretation. One day, a graduate of Fiji Bible College showed up at my office. He also lived in the Solomon Islands, but was a stranger at the time. I wanted to see the doctrinal statement of Fiji Bible College and after reading it, I was excited by how biblical the college was. My heart leaped with joy! I contacted the Bible college and applied just a few days later.”
How have you changed most since you began studying at Fiji Bible College?
“I have seen Scripture in a different way altogether. The dots have been connected and I still have one more year before graduation. I had been in the ministry for a while, but now I am able to see what was missing from ministry. I have a new perspective and I will be using these truths in these ministries going back. I am looking forward to helping put the right doctrines in the church.”
How can we be praying for those in the Solomon Islands?
1) Pray for future biblical counseling training and equipping.
2) Praise: There are some there who were deceived that are now coming to know the truth and power of the gospel.
3) Pray that God will raise up strong Christian leaders who desire to be biblical.
How can we specifically be praying for you?
1) That I would finish the training at the Bible college well. I want to get the knowledge and training I can, so I will have plenty to share when I return.
2) Praying for a solid Bible school, regardless of the size.
3) Pray for those involved in the prosperity gospel and the false gospel. People have been trapped for a long time. Pray that they would see and receive the truth to discern what is true and false. Pray that their passion would be directed well.
4) Please also pray for Philip’s health. At the start of his first term at Fiji Bible College, Philip spent 3 weeks in the ICU for sepsis and heart failure. The doctors here say his survival was an act of divine intervention. He was the only survivor from his ICU ward. Please pray that God would continue to heal his heart, grant him longevity to do His work, and would bless his ministry in the Solomon Islands greatly.
We hope that this will help you better understand the Solomon Islands and what the Lord is doing there! Please pray for Philip and the other students who are currently training with hopes to return and minister in their island nations.
-Michael, Jordan, Taj & Tori