God’s Plan in Kumi’s Failure

Vakatawa Vetinia Kumi
Vakatawa Vetinia receiving Bible Society’s gift for her church.

THE wise man once stated that, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). This scripture rings loud and true for Lay Pastor (Vakatawa) Vetinia Kumi who twice flopped her English, Fiji Seventh Form Examination paper, to finally realize the purpose and call of God in her life. Her ambition whilst at high school was to have a successful career and support her family. However, despite scoring good marks and failing the most important subject – English, Kumi realized she had to change vocation.

Growing up in her village of Naruwai in the province of Bua in Fiji’s second largest island – Vanua Levu, Kumi always shares her dream to her parents, that one day she’d become a Deaconess or a pastor. Then, she enrolled into the school system. It was in this education stream that her childhood dream slowly faded and she thought, to pursue a successful career. But later into her final year at high school level, that God miraculously moved in a way, that looked otherwise in the eyes of man but it was His way of making Kumi realize the Calling in her life.

“I thought I’ll become a civil servant as I continued my high school education. I really wanted to have a good career so I can help my parents and my family. But something happened, I failed my English paper, despite two attempts. I passed my Form 7 exam in my first attempt, but I failed my English which is the most important subject. So, I thought to give it another try. I changed school and attended Labasa Muslim College. I passed with very good marks but I still failed my English paper. Right at this moment, God just reminded me of my childhood dream that I always wanted to become a deaconess or a pastor,” the 27-year-old says.

She was offered an opportunity to study at the Lautoka Teachers College and simultaneously, the doors to study at the Fiji National University opened. But Kumi knew the experience she went through at high school is a beacon that she had to change course.

“From this experience, I told my parents of my desire and the Godly reason why I twice failed my English paper. It was a bit hard for them to accept but I’m happy that they’ve supported me until now.”

Kumi then attended the Methodist Lay Training Center (MLTC) in 2013, graduated in 2015 as the only female graduate. She spent a year looking after her village of Naruwai before being posted to her first posting at Tavulomo village in the circuit of Dama in the Bua division under the Methodist Church of Fiji. She’s now into her sixth year looking after a congregation of 156 members.

The pandemic outbreak of Covid-19 was an obstacle that she approached as a challenge. It was an experience that she could only thank God for giving her the wisdom to make wise decisions. As the people were suffering, she attributed God for the ‘motherly love’ instincts inbuilt in a woman that kicked within and had great impacts in the lives of the people.

“Covid-19 changed how things work in the ministry,” Kumi explained.

“Most people were not coming to church because they were used to the lockdown norm of staying home during the pandemic. But I believe that ‘tender love and caring’ characters in a woman especially mothers who’d care for their children, birthed compassion in me. I begin to treat people with love. I can feel God strengthening me in this area to show genuine love to the people and it really impacted them,” she adds.

“Later, after the lockdown, people slowly began to come of out of this new norm of staying home on Sundays to attend church. Some members who haven’t entered a church in more than 10 years begin to come to church now.”

She drew a lot of inspirations and invaluable lessons from her congregation. “It’s my members that really taught me a lot in the ministry. I learned a lot of things from my visit to the members on a personal level. It gives me inspiration to see how people are impacted and have grown despite the challenges of this covid-19.”

She adds ministry is tough. “Its worth travelling this tough journey. It’s a joy to do ministry because I know that in those tough situations, I am not alone – God is with me. I often hear from my circuit Pastor, that ministry is not only about preaching – it’s getting to know the people on a personal level, building that strong relationship with them,” she adds.

Vakatawa Vetinia with her son, Naivalu.

Kumi is married to Olive Rasue, who has been a pillar in the ministry. She says her husband’s support has really helped her grown.

“I thank God for my husband who is very supportive and understanding. I have my roles at home as a wife and as a mother and then there’s ministry. It’s hard trying to balance them all. But my husband helps me fulfill all these roles. Its his support and understanding that motivates me in the ministry.”

Kumi who is the only female Vakatawa in the division of Bua is breaking new grounds in a male dominant ministry. She is the first female from her village to journey this vocation. Kumi is also the pioneer Vakatawa in the village of Tavulomo where she ministers.  

She advices, “Struggle and life’s challenges will keep coming at us like waves but the only solution is God. Fiji, let’s serve God faithfully, build a good relationship and fellowship with God, come away from living a sinful life and you’d witness the favour of God in your life.”

One of her favourite bible verses, John 14:6; “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” is always a reminder that it’s through Jesus alone that all problems could be solved. 

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