Tavua is situated on a small hill on the edge of the King's Highway, where this the countries second main road crosses over the northern part of Fiji's main island Viti Levu.
It is an area stepped both in Fijian and European history. For it was through these waters that Captain Bligh of "The Mutiny" fame had sailed in his epic voyage to Timor. And here that Gold was discovered in the neighbouring town of Vatukoula.
A mine has been operating there for over a hundred years now. Currently owned by Empire Gold Mines of Australia, this mine provides considerable local employment, and is the source of a few local intrigues.
Working underground down as far as two thousand or so feet, the miners are notorious for smuggling not only gold out of the mine but also dynamite. With the coups of the last two decades this last item has posed some considerable security concern. Mostly the dynamite is used for fishing, where it has claimed many a good man's limbs and eyesight.
While staying in Tavua I wondered how some of the shops survive. Their dilapidated stock sometimes even has years of dust on it and there are so many staff and so few services or products. And can the owners really afford to import the latest new cars from Japan for themselves by selling just a few items a day worth less than $5.00 each?
Well, local lore has it that the gold nuggets and filings that are smuggled out of the Vatukoula mine, find their way through the various local shops to a shady business community. Where there is a large hidden industry which can cast any metallic item into its gold equivalent.
A metal link watch strap can mysteriously be turned into a solid gold replica. Which can easily be worn by a person going through customs when they are migrating or making trips to stash wealth overseas with out wanting to attract the attention of the Fiji Reserve Bank.
But how could such operations continue right under the noses of local officials you might wonder?
Each morning the town's distributor of illicit diluted methylated spirits (sold decanted for drinking!) is rumoured to send a substantial bribe of Yaqona (Kava) up to a government official and a local law enforcement person.
Not surprisingly he can continue selling his illegal and highly dangerous concoctions publicly over the counter, undisturbed by officialdom of any kind.
Kava has become a national blight. Government officials all over these islands spend hours of the business day drinking it, sitting in mind-numbed obviousness to the needs of the members of the communities who they are meant to be serving. Who themselves often sit up at night drinking it until dawn, rendering themselves useless for any good thing during the day. The pinging peeling sound of a 10cm solid metal bar pilling down into a steel crucible to pound Kava roots into a ready state for mixing and drinking, has truly become the new nightly church bell of Fiji and Vanuatu.
A bell calling its adherents to gather and imbibe together. Some, to enter occultic realms. For frequently with the drinking of Kava now-a-days, 'drink offerings' are being made again, and the 'gods' of old are being called upon. Which we know to be no gods, but demons.
No born again Christian I have ever met in Fiji or Vanuatu will drink the substance. For those people who do regularly use the modern strong varieties, many end up with a distinctive skin condition, nerve cell damage, and the men with impotence.
Truly there has been a dark presence in many of the Kava ceremonies that I have witnessed.
It was to Tavua that the Lord first sent us when we returned to Fiji for the second time this year (2001).
Our local brothers and sisters wanted us to stay in the hotel for the initial part of our visit. They insisted on this and on paying for it. When we got to the Hotel, we turned down the prearranged air-conditioned room, and settled for a fan instead as this would cost the locals less.
We paid the first night, but our friends again insisted on us letting them take care of the rest of the bill. So we avoided eating in the restaurant except for a couple of meals, instead buying things in the supermarket and risking the local canteen at the Hot Bread Shop.
Now I know that the prosperity type people would say that you should make the most of such an opportunity. However there is another side to God's character as well that would see us to try and be as little of a burden as possible when moving amongst poorer people. It would have been neat if we could have afforded to pay for all of the hotel bill, but we had not been put into that position prior to leaving New Zealand for Fiji.
There is a deeper kind of prosperity that God can provide that does not always involve having a lot of money to throw around.
It was said to be winter but as Fiji was in the grip of a hot spell, temperatures were sometimes even in the high thirties again. We became very grateful that we were in the hotel as there was no air movement at all in the place where we were to stay later. Slowly our bodies started to adjust. The Lord told us to rest in preparation for what was ahead.
We didn't know it but we were to speak some fifteen times in a two week season of preaching and teaching, with only a few days either side to catch up in before moving on to other things. One day I spoke three times at major sessions! A week was solidly spent on taking nightly workshops for locals who believed to attend, on the theme of 'Preparing for Mission'.
The Holy Spirit indicated to us that we should expect that a core of twenty people would come along. Although there were many more people some nights, as we looked back at the end of the sessions, we realised that there had been a certain core of twenty people.
Each evening we believed to open up the floor for a period of time for any one present to share what they believed the Lord was saying to them to share.
This became a very exciting period of time each night. Frequently all the scripture I had book marked in my bible for the evening from both the new and old testaments, were shared through direct bible readings, visions or dreams by the others who had an ear to what the Lord was saying.
On one occasion I light heartedly told one sister (briefly back in Fiji from USA) as she finished sharing, that she had stolen what I was about to preach on! Everyone including us were greatly encouraged by what we witnessed the Lord Jesus doing through the Holy Spirit in these sessions together.
As we worked through the week, people started to respond more and more to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and some were getting very specific dreams.
The Lord was speaking to people confirming the nature and degree of their callings. Often as we listened to the dreams being shared, we could see other people's faces lighting up as a part of a Scripture or revelation they had in their heart, was explained by the Holy Spirit through another brother or sister. It was a joy to yet again see the Lord confirm the timeless truth of 1 Corinthians and particularly chapters 11 to the end of 14.
This theme so caught the hearts of some of the leadership of that place that eventually I was asked to address a leadership meeting of about 25 people to encourage them in the principles.
The group decided to implement Paul's First Corinthian instructions about gatherings in their cell meetings as a step towards following it in their full meetings together. As this idea came through from one of their own influential people and so we are hopeful that it will be followed through.
During this time we were also asked to minister in other groups in the district. Michael and one brother Sekeli (the bible name Ezekiel), were being used extensively by the Lord in prophetic ministry. Quite often they would each have separate confirmations. Sekeli one of the local 'talatala' - ministers was interpreting into Fijian for us for the whole of our time in the Tavua area.
He was a great blessing to us. Having a truly spirit filled man who was obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit was a great answer to a very specific prayer request for us.
During the 'Preparing for Missions' week and nearly at every other time, we were enabled with the power of the Holy Spirit to share the gospel directly. And each time He had us speak, we were blessed to see the Lord Jesus moving in healings, miracles and other convincing signs and wonders to confirm the message of His gospel and soon and coming kingdom. Far, far, too many things to tell them all here, but I will just share a few. It will make this newsletter quite long though!
Towards the end of the 'Preparing for Missions' week a number of people made definite decisions to lay down their whole lives for God and His service. On one of the last nights, I was asked to conduct a commissioning service for two Fijian missionary nurses who were leaving to serve the Lord Jesus in a small hospital in northern rural Ghana. It was amazing to Michael and I for the Lord has had us involved in different things to do with Ghana for some years now.
The structure of the basic type of Christian meeting in Fiji is classic evangelical-pentecostal of the USA variety and this makes it very difficult to share prophecy or revelation sometimes. So I would check with Mike and Sekeli before I preached, asking them if they had anything from the Lord before I spoke, so that I could let them in at the appropriate place.
On one occasion Michael told me that he had received a word from the Lord Jesus concerning there being two people, in a church we were preaching at in Vatukoula one night, who were practising immorality. One of them was suffering from a skin condition sent from the Lord as a warning to them.
So when I got up to preach, I paused at the Scripture I was speaking from when it touched on God's holiness and asked Mike and Sekeli to share the revelations that they had from the Holy Spirit.
Sekeli had a picture of Jesus back on the cross again. Then Michael standing in front of the people, prophesied to the meeting of about two to three hundred. In the prophecy the Lord said that there were two people thinking that they could hide their sexual immoralities from Him, but that he could hear their every noise and moan. That He had put a skin condition on one of them as a warning, and that it would get worse if they did not repent. Even before Sekeli translated the prophecy there were people coming under deep conviction for sin in the presence of the Lord Jesus.
There was a tremendous sense of God's power moving in the place. I linked the picture of Jesus on the cross to Him being put to public shame again, by these people's sins.
We waited for the two people to come out and repent.
There was a deep sense of God's presence, His holiness, and awesome power, mixed with a great sense of the Lord's willingness to forgive. In this substantial sense of the fear of the Lord, other people continued coming under deep conviction as well, and some became very agitated, almost squirming. One woman came out quite quickly. In deep remorse and repentance for the immorality that the Lord had described through Michael's prophecy, she sincerely sought to come back to the Lord. She was prayed with and arrangements were made for further counselling by locals.
We continued to wait for the other person to respond. The Lord showed me to wait until a certain time before continuing on with the preaching. However the second person did not yet come out. That happened, we were to learn later, at the end of the meeting.
Sekeli ended up counselling the person among the hundred or so other people that came forward in response to what God was doing that night; and yes this person had the skin condition the Lord had spoken of.
They had been to see their doctor, but he could not even diagnose the skin condition they had, let alone treat it. It was from the Lord and only repentance and the cleansing of Jesus was going to sort it out.
Another Sunday we were invited to speak to a combined meeting of the Hindi speaking Christians from the whole district. All ministry is a privilege from the Lord, but to me this was a very special thing to do.
The moment these people become Christians they are nearly always (sometimes forcibly) rejected from their Hindu and Muslim communities and families. With the rise of Fijian nationalism at present, many Fijian Christians treat them as some sort of very second rate Christian, and are sometimes heard to even cast doubt on whether or not any of them actually are Christian.
To be an Indian and also to be a Christian at present in Fiji, is a very difficult road to walk.
God's grace was greatly upon us all and our Heavenly Father did some wonderful things in that meeting, and when the end of the time came (the building had to be cleared for another group to use) one brother asked for any one who had been healed in the meeting by Jesus to come forward and testify. Among those who responded a widow dressed in traditional white (for death) came forward. She seemed to be a very old lady who we later found out was from up the valley. She was very unfamiliar with the whole idea of a microphone and I wondered how many she could have seen in her whole life. There was a lighter moment as she lifted the ice-cream shaped microphone to her ear as if it were a telephone handset.
When it was all explained to her she laughed with everyone else. It was very brave of her to come out to speak.
But how could she not. She had been given a healing by Jesus of a back condition which she had had it seemed for a very long time.
There was a sudden hush in the hall as a woman with a severe and visible abnormality in her back, stood up. Her relatives rushed to her, for you see she was not able to walk and they had had to help her to the front to be prayed for earlier. Fearful she would collapse to the floor they hovered around her. Then slowly seeing only Jesus, she took tentative awkward steps to the front of the hall and to the microphone. In amazement at the wonderful love of God, we all listened as in Hindi she gave thanks and praise to God for restoring to her the ability to walk.
Colin Sanday's visit with some mandarins came on the morning of another very hot winter's day. "Although the skins look green, they are very sweet", said Colin.
He stood some five foot ten inches tall, had a dark coppery complexion with the most unexpected blue eyes. His wife apparently pure Fijian, was much darker.
Colin's father is a part Fijian / Australian Scotsman I was told. The great-grandfather had arrived from the Blue Mountains of Eastern Australia, liked the area and settled down with a local girl to start a family. Never a man for the plains, the grandfather also had always felt drawn to the hills back of Tavua. And now the family still holds a land lease on the top of the hill that Tavua itself stands upon.
As I sat with Colin and learnt his history, I became profoundly aware how utterly different our two worlds were.
Colin had worked in a gold mine on the northern island of Vanua Levu until, for unclear reasons, it closed some months before. So he had returned to Tavua to try and get a job in the Empire Gold Mine in neighbouring Vatukoula. Nothing had opened up.
Now he was basically living a subsistence farming lifestyle.
Part of that means going out with his wife's brother fishing when they can afford diesel, catching fish for the table, Christians, and relatives and also for selling at the market.
The Lord caused some of the people we had been ministering amongst to take up a spontaneous collection for us with out our knowledge. So we were able to use some of that to fund one of the brothers' fishing trips and Michael was blessed to go along.
Some of the rest of it went to help a man working in the Tavua Hotel whose son needed a special prescription filled the total amount for it was over a week's wages for him. Most of the rest of it we used later to catch the bus to Suva.
Colin Sanday has led a number of people to the Lord, and was one of the core twenty attendees at the 'Preparing for Missions' week.
While we were in Tavua, Colin's wife gave birth to their fourth child. When we went to see her in the hospital she told us that the first three had been girls, two she described as whities (truly a deep copper tan) with the most amazing blue eyes, and one blackie, and the new son was she exclaimed to her delight a "blackie".
One night after one of the 'Preparing for Missions' evenings together, we were asked to go up to the wee hospital to pray for a young lady from the mountainous area that stands behind the river plain that Tavua's hill rises out of. This sister in the Lord had been operated on years before and been left with a very large scar area on her stomach. This it turned out had not been properly stitched during the original operation, and now while she was in a mountain village, it had suddenly opened up! She had been evacuated by her relatives to the small sub-hospital in our town.
Would we go ? -- how could we not ! -- the Lord's presence was definitely with us.
However I strongly believed that Colin Sanday was to accompany us. As did Michael it turned out.
I asked him to join with us. He agreed. Unknown to me at the time, Michael had brought a prophecy over Colin in the prayer line that night, saying that he was to press in to the places that God wanted him to go, even if people told him not to.
As we entered the hospital three of us walked confidently through to the area where our sick sister was known to be. However, Colin for some reason was lagging behind slightly. An official came out and challenged him telling him he couldn't come in. Initially he nearly gave way, then was strengthened by what Michael said, and pressed through politely.
When we came to pray for the lady, I believed to step aside and ask Colin to pray for her. Which he fervently did. Immediately she felt something start to move on the inside of the troubled area, and she could relax for the first time in twenty-four hours. She was radiantly just beaming at what Jesus had done for her! We had believed that we were to make a trip into the central mountainous region of Viti Levu. We even had an unexpected confirmation from a brother in New Zealand having his son send us a text message on the Vodaphone, giving us a Psalm which directly mentioned mountains right at the time that we were praying about it.
It became a major theme for us. However the man who volunteered to take us up to the place where the tallest mountain in Fiji was, didn't turn up on the day that he had appointed himself. Earlier that morning the Lord had shown me that we were to do something else. So when this fellow did not turn up it was no surprise to us.
Then later on in the day our friend Eroni told us that he had seen the man's brother in the market place in Tavua, having just come down from the interior mountain village. He said that his brother was already sitting at home in the village earlier that morning when he left to come down to the coast! God knows all things.
Yet we felt that we had missed out something that God had wanted to do with us, and seemed powerless to do anything about it. Then we learned that the Fiji Military Forces had mounted a major exercise to protect the nation's main hydroelectric generation station from saboteurs in the very area we were believing to be in. So it seemed that the timing was entirely lost, and we were grateful to the Lord that He had kept us from pushing to be present by ourselves in that area when our contact fell through at that point, as our presence would have very likely have been treated as being very suspect.
This was I think my fifth or sixth visit to Tavua since my first one in 1985.
While there this last time we were presented with more information on a most amazing thing that Lord had done in 1991. At that time I had arrived in Fiji, with no clear guidance on where to go when I got there other than to have a cup of tea in the airport's departure lounge area.
That I did and another man approached me when he saw that I was reading a bible at my table. He was the Pacific representative for a large seed company, and a friend of his had been leading him to the Lord. He wanted to talk! In fact he wanted to talk about the Lord Jesus so much that they had to make repeated announcements for him by name, and then hold his plane for him, so that he didn't miss his flight.
After he left, I had a prayer and believed that the Lord said that I was to catch the bus and go on from Nadi Airport to the town of Tavua.
I changed buses in Lautoka city and went on to the Ba district. Arriving in Tavua in the late afternoon, I found out where my friends Fifita and Eroni were now staying. When I got to their place, Fifita greeted me from the top of the steps with the news that Eroni was in the USA. I didn't want to stay with the man of the house not there, but she assured me a number of times that there were Christian sisters staying with her to help while Eroni was away, and that he would return within the next few days 3/4 to a week.
Eroni returned most unexpectedly early. He said that he had not been feeling well and had rearranged his flight days.
We were able to reconstruct what happened later. A couple of days after Eroni arrived home from the States, Fifita noticed very early in the morning that he had left their bed for the lavatory. About sunrise she noticed that he had not returned. She found him dead on the toilet. One of the sisters who was staying was called and sent to get me.
I awoke just before this sister came banging on my bedroom door, bursting in and loudly telling me to come urgently.
In the light of the toilet, Eroni normally of a medium to dark Fijian complexion was now a pale greyish colour. Fifita was alternately crying at the door for the loss of him, and crying out to the Lord for His help. "Pray brother Paul, PRAY!", she said.
I went into the toilet, and laid hands on him. He was quite cold, and this close up appeared a very eerie colour. Somehow I just could not accept that he was dead. But there was no evident breathing or pulse. He just was not there. Yet God did something in my heart and mind and I could not accept it. My mind would not focus on Eroni being dead. Extraordinarily in the circumstances I prayed with faith and no doubt.
Jesus returned Eroni to us. He was very groggy at first but "all there".
There being no ambulance in that part of Fiji in 1991, I organised a taxi to take Eroni to the town's little sub-hospital for a check up. They kept him in and eventually sent him to Lautoka Base Hospital for further observation.
A couple of days later the Tavua Hospital doctor asked to see me. He explained that Eroni had divicalitus, a condition where infected and inflamed blood vessels in the lower bowl suddenly rupture and bleed profusely.
This explained why the toilet bowl had been really full of what looked like pure blood and little water.
Standing in front of me with a clipboard of papers, he slowly leafed through them explaining how each one of them represented blood and plasma given to Eroni. First he had given them all of the stock of his blood type that was on hand, then he had given what blood he could get from Lautoka City base hospital. Then more was flown up from the Memorial Hospital in Suva. In between all this they had given Eroni plasma. Apparently to a doctor it all meant that when admitted to hospital, Eroni did not have very much blood to speak of in him at all. Also all of his arteries that could be investigated, had collapsed.
The doctor wanted an explanation for how Eroni was alive, as he could not give a medical one, but he knew that we were all 'spiritually minded'.
So I gave God the glory and testified to him of the saving and healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus is still the Resurrection and the Life!
Now in 2001, many years later I was to learn that during the time that his body was dead, Eroni was taken by the Lord and shown hell, and then heaven. Then the Lord told him to only do the things that He told him to do (John 5) and sent him back to complete his ministry on earth. Michael and I were very encouraged this trip as we learnt more details of the miracle from Fifita and Eroni. Eroni has written more details out for us, and the Lord willing (and I really mean just that) when we receive it, we'll look at publishing it in another newsletter.
During my first trip to Tavua in 1985, I had been taken into the local koro (village). This is a chiefly village where the high chief (Tui) for the area resides. At that time he was extremely anti-Christian. He had been trying to have Eroni run out of town. By God's grace Eroni and Fifita had remained, now for over a total of thirty years at the post that they believed God has given them to be ministering from.
When I first visited the koro, a man had been healed and delivered. There had been very few Christians in the koro. Now there were a number.
Forward to 2001 and unexpectedly the Tui wanted to meet Michael and I. We spent hours with him and his wife in their private apartments. His wife rededicated her life and we were asked to pray for her and a grandchild. Then the Tui himself asked for prayer. We are honour bound to say no more at this time, apart from sharing that this man had been primarily responsible for the first coup that Ra(m)buka executed in the eighties, and now was deeply repentant of it all.
Such events are a glimmer of hope from God in a country which is so ethnically, spiritually, and politically divided.
We were in part reaping where others had sown literally in tears and unspeakable hardships.
While in Fiji earlier in the year, we had spent time with people who were discussing various training options with us. One of those brothers Sekove in Savusavu Vanua Levu, was keen to have some vegetable seeds.
The Lord provided for this in a most amazing way.
Just before we left Tavua and for Suva, a parcel organised by a New Zealand brother arrived.
A gardening shop in his area was closing down and he had been offered half of their seed stock. The other half was apparently going to Africa.
With local advice the arrangements were made for bringing it into the country, and as I said the Lord brought it to us just before we were due to go down to Suva. We believed to offer some of it to the brothers and sisters in Tavua as trial lots as some of the vegetables although ranked tropical and sub-tropical had not been attempted in their area before.
Also in the package was the end piece of a garden hoe. Apparently made out of steel, this was a very solid piece of equipment. The brother who received it had needed one for some time, and also got some capsicum seeds from us having only talked with his wife about trying to find some a couple of days before.
Colin Sanday also received some seeds from the consignment, and we look forward to hearing back from him and brother Lukie in due time as to the success or otherwise of the different varieties.
The Queen's Highway is a well formed road that links Suva and Lautoka on the westward side of Viti Levu. Mostly sealed between Lautoka and Rakiraki
The Kings Highway soon degenerates into a glorified goat's-track as you leave the province of Ra. As it passes through the more hilly areas near the mountains, it is sometimes barely recognisable as a 'highway' at all. Notorious for its crater like potholes, a journey along it by 'express' bus is a memory cherished by few.
But it was the King's Highway that we were to take to Suva. We had other items that the Lord had granted us to receive from brothers and sisters in the Lord in New Zealand for taking over to our Christian family in Fiji. And we needed to arrange getting the seeds and some books up to Sekove in Savusavu.
To do that we were believing to visit a koro (village) in the hills behind Suva where his brother Vono who worked on an inter-island ferry lived. (When we did catch up with Vono, he had the day before been sent back to Suva with the express purpose of getting some seeds for the brothers in Savusavu.)
Just before we left Tavua an urgent message was passed to us by our host-to-be in Suva saying that they were unable for family reasons to follow up in their invitation to us to stay.
After prayer we rang and left a message with our friends Binney and Theressa in Nabua suburb of Suva, the family we had previously been put with by the Lord. Through staying there we got to pray with a man who was spectacularly delivered by the Lord Jesus of intense demonic powers. Praise God!
Suva was a most interesting time for us full of diversity in the things that the Lord had us to do. We went from a strongly pentecostal atmosphere in Tavua to ministering in Suva to members of a Brethren Assembly who were interested in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A ginormous difference!
We shared many evenings with people, spoke in one of their Sunday meetings, and took a five hour seminar on the basics of the gospel. We knew that the Lord kept warning us that we would be dealt with cheaply in the end, and it surely happened.
When we got onto the topic of Eternal Judgement one of the elder's wives took exception to the idea that unsaved people (including her grown up children) would not finally be saved by the Lord after death.
From there she seemed to harbour a grudge against me. Finally she struck out. The morning I found out (from her husband) the Lord had had me up early to read Psalm 109. Have a read for yourself and you might understand what happened.
Later that morning her husband rang and said that she had accused me of having told her point blank a total heresy! She wanted her husband to sort me out.
I asked one of the witnesses to the conversation and they rang him and confirmed what had been shared, which was millions of miles away from any statement that I was being accused of. I informed the man that his wife was lying, and (on the basis of the Scripture that the Lord had had me reading that morning -- which I shared with him) that I believed it was a very deliberate lie.
(Interestingly when I had read the Scripture and asked the Lord what it was all about, I was shown her face a number of times, and had been praying for hours with Michael about it. It was just as we had finished praying, that very soon after her husband made the first phone call to me about it all.)
After her husband rang her up at work, she rang back to where I was staying. She pretended to not know what her husband could be speaking of and I informed her that the Lord took deliberate lying very seriously especially when it was designed as an attempt at character assassination.
She rang her husband back, and then he rang me and apologised for his wife's behaviour. Regrettably for the woman, so far before the Lord the matter remains unresolved. But as she believes in 'a once saved always saved' notion, she no doubt falsely thinks she can do these things with impunity. We naturally refused to take up two speaking engagements for that weekend with them even though the husband pressed us to do so.
It was a risk ministering in those circles, but it was only a small mar on an otherwise very worthwhile venture into Brethren circles, through which we made many good new friends.
While in Suva we explored the initiatives being taken there in Christian education, and both for there and other places like Vanuatu we know that there is a lot more to be done for the Lord.
There was one day just before we left that was particularly hard for us. No funds had arrived, and things looked pretty bleak. The missing out going into the mountains was still weighing heavily upon us as we had had that leading for over six months or more. We prayed very deeply. All the Lord finally showed to us to go and find a man who he had granted me to lead to Himself many years before.
Leniatasi Nakarawa. In 1989, another New Zealander and I had even baptised Elanoa, Leni's wife in the creek that ran down through their place.
Leni was home and we took chairs from the house and sat outside to pray.
Almost immediately he had a vision for us of climbing along a valley that was rising up a hill, that turned into a mountain, and that God was saying that we were almost at the top of the mountain! He then shared another prophetic vision that we are keeping to our selves for now.
This was a very great encouragement to us both. Before we had arrived at his place, the Lord Jesus had shown to me that Leni was going to some sort of meeting, and that we should accompany him.
It turned out that he and his wife were planning to visit a squatters' settlement in a place called KaliKana. It was named after a part of the Solomon Islands as Solomoners had been given land to use there many years before, but through marriage had all but integrated into the local population.
The family we were visiting were Hindi. We picked our way through the narrow and sometimes slippery paths up the hillside. Their house rested on poles at the top of a rise overlooking their part of the settlement.
After the formalities of Hindi hospitality were observed, Leni asked us to minister. I believed to speak a simple message on the cross. Michael leaned over and encouraged me to speak on the resurrection.
At the end of the time of speaking, I believed that the Holy Spirit gave me several words of knowledge. One by one each word of knowledge for healing found its person as the two oldest people present, the grandparents, owned up to them. The grandfather was not a believer and this all had a tremendous confirming effect for the gospel message that had been shared that night.
Leni and Elanoa were also encouraged. They revealed that they had been planning to take us out for tea. They took us for pizza, a quite expensive item when compared to an average wage in Fiji. However Leni said that his reason was that in the Lord he wanted to honour the Lord's use of me in leading him to salvation those years before. We shared a lot with them over the meal, and later on a return visit.
They both believe that God wants them to minister to Aborigines in the Darwin area, and their preparations are at a very advanced stage.
A brother offered to look at getting us a ticket so that we could stay longer and minister in Fiji. God showed us to not follow this man's ideas.
Then this brother turned out to be unreilable so we were grateful we had followed God's leading and made no plans around this man.
We did not believe to remain any longer in Fiji. Yet neither did we have sufficient funds to leave Suva, stay in Nadi in preparation for our morning flight, or pay our departure taxes.
If we were going to connect with our New Zealand flight, the last day we could leave Suva had come. And still no money either in hand or in our New Zealand bank accounts.
Then the people we were staying with told us that they had meant for some time to make an offering in a church they were going to but had for various reasons been held up by the Lord from doing so. They had no doubt that they were meant to give it to us as ministers of the gospel.
With some difficulty they also gave us some extra. This got us on our way. The Lord set it up so that we could share with some Samoan Christians on the bus to Nadi. These brothers had been over for a United Nations conference and Michael had a really neat time with them praise God!
Then we found out at the Nadi airport that contrary to the official brochures in the Government Travel Office, the cheap hostels were no longer offering free transfers to and from the airport.
We did not have any more than our departure taxes and accommodation money. Binney and Theressa had packed an evening meal for us.
It was suggested by one of the travel agents there that we should speak to the driver of one hostel van that might still be offering free transfers.
As we quietly waited in the peace of God for the driver to come back to his vehicle, an Australian who had married and lived in Fiji since the 1960s, approached us and struck up a conversation. He asked where we were staying. We told him why we weren't going to the places he mentioned as offering cheap accommodation, and showed him their notices and explained what was happening with the transfers. He said that he knew of the problem.
The conversation drifted onto other things, but then spontaneously He picked up his cellphone and rang one of the places, and got us a guaranteed budget room speaking to them in Fijian telling them that we were servants of the Lord!
Then he almost ran over to a taxi, made an arrangement, then returned and pressed the equivalent of a day's wages in Fijian money into my hand.
We thanked him as we got into our taxi, but in our hearts thanked the Lord a lot more for this and I think everything else that we had seen Him do during the time that He had us ministering for Him in Fiji.
One thing God really showed us was that although the skins might look different, by His grace there are often hearts of gold inside, so that even green mandarins can taste sweet.
September 2, 2001
Sound is On