When someone mentions Fiji you might immediately think of a vacation destination. If this is the first thing that comes to your mind, you are not alone. That is exactly what Jordan and I thought when I began to think of the best place to spend our honeymoon in 2007. We did not choose Fiji with plans of scouting out our future home, life, and ministry. In fact, we had the deep-seated conviction that we were to spend our life on the mission field (likely on the other side of the world in Africa). With this in mind, we sat down and discussed the options. We asked ourselves the question, “If we are to become missionaries someday, what is the one place that we will most likely never have the chance to visit again?” And so Fiji became our honeymoon destination.
Our 1st Visit to Fiji
June 23, 2007 was one of the greatest days of my life (second only to the day in which I became a child of God). In the kindness and grace of God, Jordan Yurica moved up 6 letters in the alphabet and became my wife. The very next day, we made our way to the LAX airport and then on to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Though we were excited, we had no idea what the Lord had in store.
When we arrived in Fiji the first conversation we had with a Fijian was a meaningful one. The taxi driver who picked us up from the airport in Nadi, Fiji began to share with us the gospel. Much to our surprise this friendly Fijian had a deep concern for our eternal well-being and the true salvation of our souls. He was skeptical that anyone from Los Angeles would truly be followers of Christ. As we reached our final destination, Jordan and I agreed that out of all of our various travel arrivals this was the most unique and definitely a memorable way to start our honeymoon!
As we continued on our journey, Jordan and I were overwhelmed by the absolute beauty of God’s creation in Fiji. Although the islands, water, and sea life were incredible, it was the people that left a lasting impression. Few places in the world have left us with such a strong sense that God had worked mightily and in such a wonderful way as among the people of Fiji.
God’s Perfect Timing
Jordan and I returned to California to what would become every-day life, but our first visit to Fiji had made a lasting impression. We still had the desire to become international missionaries as we continued to work traditional jobs. I searched the internet for ministries that were training men and church leaders in Fiji, but could not find much. Jordan and I often prayed for the people of Fiji that their knowledge of the truth and faith in God would continue to grow. As we worked our jobs and served in the local church, we frequently thought of the work God was doing in Fiji as we returned to a home filled with reminders.
Years later, the Lord provided an opportunity for Jordan and me to return to Fiji in 2013. As I started my first semester at The Master’s Seminary, we received a blessing from God that led to an anniversary trip to Fiji. This trip only reaffirmed our love for the people of Fiji and our prayers continued, but at this point we had still not yet heard of a strong ministry equipping Fiji’s spiritual leaders.
During the spring semester of 2013, I was sitting in Dr. Barrick’s Hebrew Exegesis class at The Master’s Seminary. We began this class as usual, which was with a word of prayer. Dr. Barrick briefly shared a prayer request from a recent TMS graduate, Premend Choy, and mentioned that this man was currently serving at a Bible college in his home country of Fiji. I vividly remember running to open my computer after class to research this Bible college and their ministry in Fiji. In all my searching, I had somehow missed this wonderful God-honoring ministry that was currently training pastors in Fiji. I quickly emailed the man I prayed for in class earlier that morning and awaited his response.
Our 3rd Visit to Fiji
Shortly after sending that email, a sweet relationship was started with Premend, the Vice President of the college. As God miraculously provided for a third trip to Fiji, Premend invited us to visit the college and to offered to let me be a guest speaker at one of their youth ministry camps. A few months and emails later, Jordan and I returned to Fiji with a rekindled passion and heart for the Fijian people. This trip was to be life changing.
A former professor of mine used to say that every personal interaction is one with an eternal being and a divine appointment. This concept moved me when I first heard it years ago, but this idea echoed in my mind for the duration of this return trip to Fiji. From the moment we got on the first boat leaving Viti Levu to the casual meetings on the outer islands, Jordan and I became acutely aware of the sovereignty of God in every day conversations.” It quickly began to feel as though we were not on vacation, but rather the Lord had sent us on a personal missions trip. Each day we were on the lookout for “the next conversation.”
The first morning it started with a 4-hour meeting with a boat attendant as we took the ferry to our outer island destination. Upon her learning I was training to be a pastor, she sat down at our table and began to cry asking if we could tell her what the Bible says about living with her unbelieving and unfaithful husband. A few days later, we joined a hotel worker as he watched his cousin’s funeral procession. His cousin had been a young husband and father who died unexpectedly and the worker truly desired to talk about the true purpose of each life and God’s sovereignty in all circumstances. Then there was the man who instead of doing his sales presentation, asked if we could just go for a walk so he could confide his discouraging struggle of lust and ask for practical help on how to actively fight and overcome it so he could honor his wife like God would want him to. One of our favorite conversations was with two women working at a shop who began asking Jordan several questions regarding true Christianity. They were so concerned that both women paused what they were doing for nearly an hour in order to learn the differences between Christianity and Mormonism so they could defend their faith. Each one of these encounters only reaffirmed in our hearts the great needs and the tremendous work God is doing in Fiji.
When we finally made it to visit Premend Choy and Dr. Narayan Nair at the College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji, Jordan and I were refreshed and encouraged. Seeing the campus and the fruit of the work of these faithful men brought joy to our hearts, especially knowing the incredible spiritual hunger in Fiji. That night I taught a group of youth that Premend regularly invites from the surrounding community. Jordan and I were both overwhelmed by their desire for biblical truth and so very humbled by the faithfulness of these godly men at this school. When the evening was over, Jordan and I sat and prayed that the Lord would use us in any way possible to serve Him and partner with this wonderful ministry.
Trusting the Lord with the Future
After returning home to California, Jordan and I told our family and friends the many ways that we had seen the Lord at work in Fiji and decided that whatever future ministry the Lord called us to, we would do our best to stay actively involved with the work in Fiji. We continued to exchange emails and prayer requests with Premend and I continued my studies at The Master’s Seminary. The 2015 Shepherd’s Conference was rapidly approaching and I received the news that Premend Choy and Dr. Nair had been invited to attend. We made arrangements to spend time together during the conference with the hope of introducing them to our Senior Pastor and my mentor (and brother-in-law), Adam Tyson.
The Pieces Start Coming Together
Before the 2015 Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church, The Master’s Academy International held an all-day event. Premend and Dr. Nair invited me to spend that day with them. I was so excited to see these brothers in Christ again and I was amazed at how many of the attendees at the conference came running up to Dr. Nair to greet him! Imagine if you were attending with Dr. John MacArthur, but didn’t realize the history of the impact and extent of his ministry. (Sidenote: as a humble man of God, Dr. Nair also neglected to mention that there is a biography published about his ministry and the College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji written by Cathy Kreis, which can be found HERE. Jordan and I stumbled upon this while searching for books on the history of Christianity in Fiji.) It was abundantly clear that the work of this Fijian college located in a sugarcane field on a remote island in the South Pacific had an immense impact on the lives of so many men around the world! By the end of The Shepherd’s Conference, Premend, Dr. Nair, Jordan, and I had several discussions regarding our love for their ministry and a potential opportunity of long term involvement in the role of biblical counseling. From the first moment we stepped foot on Fiji in 2007 to these conversations at The Shepherd’s Conference in 2015, we could not have anticipated what God had planned. Throughout this wonderful process, it became abundantly clear that our growing love for the country, the people, and the college was from the Lord.
We saw God open doors at a rapid rate as He provided clarity and direction during the next several months. I personally have a deep passion for biblical counseling, discipleship, and teaching. The College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji has a desire to grow their biblical counseling program and has a network of churches interested in exploring biblical counseling training. In addition to this, their school’s program is designed to be able to invest in the lives of each other, the community, and the students. The Lord provided the right people at key moments and gave reaffirmation from many dear mentors. Additionally, our loving church with godly elders has eagerly supported the idea and like-minded believers have given us wise counsel. It has truly been an exciting journey!
The End is Only the Beginning
As we prayerfully took the next steps on this journey, Dr. Nair put me in contact with Wallace Francis who is the director of Ambassadors for Christ International (visit their website HERE). This organization has been a key partner with the College of Theology and Evangelism Fiji since its inception. Wallace invited us to join them at their annual missionary conference in Georgia.
After the final push to finish my studies at The Master’s Seminary, I completed my M.Div. coursework in December 2015 and our family headed off to attend Ambassadors for Christ’s annual conference in Georgia. The Lord continued His work as we met with fellow missionaries and preachers who are currently serving Him in the United States and around the world. After meeting with Wallace Francis, Jordan and I officially joined this fellowship of believers serving the Lord around the world.
So what’s next? Jordan and I are currently making all the preparations that are necessary for missionaries to head off to the mission field. We are working with our home church, elders, missions agency, and mentors as we begin this long process of moving across the world. There is a great deal to do, so much to learn, and many things we are waiting for the Lord to do for us. As we begin this journey, we would like to invite you to join us to come and see what the Lord will do, how He will provide, and the ways that He will show Himself faithful! We have been so encouraged to see the Lord’s hand at work in this whole process and we want you to share in our rejoicing as we watch Him continue to work. We want to use these posts and newsletters to document the amazing work of the Lord as we move to our new home and ministry!