As the whole world closed its boarders and practiced social distancing, Fiji experienced one of the worst cyclones to hit the islands. Fijians flee to their islands due to corona virus and job losses from urban areas but were met by Cyclone Harold. It was a rude awakening for some as they interpreted the disaster as a punishment from God for their sins, but for Bible Society Fiji Mission, this was an opportune time to bring awareness of the WORD of GOD to them and also conduct Trauma Healing workshops.
The team visited Vatulele island in October 2020. The island is a flat archipelago 40mins away from Coral Coast, Sigatoka. Vatulele has one primary school and Methodism as the only Christian denomination. It has four villages, Ekubu, Taunovo, Lomanikaya and Bouwaqa, with four teams conducting workshops and free distribution of scriptural materials. The islands main source of income, masi (tapa), was badly damaged from the cyclone.
In the same month of October, Beqa island was visited too. A little bigger than Vatulele, Beqa has eight villages and four schools (three primary schools & one secondary school). Three teams serviced the islands and visited its schools.
Mid November till the first week of December has the Mission team visiting the fourth largest island in Fiji, Kadavu. The island has seventy-five villages and the mission team was divided into five groups. Four teams travelled Kadavu while one team worked on Ono island. Teams spent twenty-four days teaching and ministering in Kadavu and was met with great reception from all the Christian churches on the island.
The teams main workshop were the Trauma Healing workshop and the Bible Society awareness session. They also conducted a number of workshops that is needed like the Translation workshop, the Sunday School Teachers training, the Hermeneutics seminar and staffs that were trained with YWAM, utilized the YWAM BELT material for kids when the need arise.
The trauma healing session was very helpful to most villagers as some carried a lot of hurt and trauma even before the cyclone. The practical exercise on drawing your trauma helped so many in expressing some of the hurt they’ve been carrying for years. Creating a safe space for everyone to speak in was new to most as tradition restricts certain people from public speaking. In some villages, the participatory way of learning challenges the culture of having a traditional spokesperson who speaks for the village.
The Translation workshop is an awareness session about translation work in Fiji and highlighting the Fijian New Version bible. In some places, most people still prefer the old version because they do not know much about the new version. So this prompt us to make awareness on the Fijian New Version bible and highlighting the slight changes on the translation as this will help make clear the gist of what the Word of God is.
Despite the closure of boarders around the whole world and social distancing becoming a new norm, Bible Society is in full swing with missions. People are hungry for the Word in this trying time.
As the year 2020 comes to an end, we are grateful for lessons learnt in visiting and seeing local communities and how they recuperate, months after Cyclone Harold. Even with their circumstances they were still willing to share their food and homes to our mission teams and this is where we can see God’s hands working in the lives of his people and how blessed we are, to do His will.
Special mention to our prayer partners and donors for the support throughout 2020 and we hope and pray that 2021 will allow us to reach those in need in the Pacific.