From the Pacific to the Nations
Just returned to New Zealand, the Aukinos (see this story) epitomise the once and future story of Pacific Islanders’ mission ventures to the world. Kimi and Meafou’s long service living out the gospel in South America is an exemplary torch lighting up the call that Pacific Island church leaders in Auckland have been making since 2012, for their congregations to start looking outward to the nations.
At a big Missions Interlink conference in 2012, several Pacific Island leaders present looked around the assembled gathering and wondered where the Polynesians were. Recognising the gap led to mobilisation. Now we have the Pacific2Nations movement, with a visionary conference planned for November and a growing heart for missions.
Over 200 years ago, when London Missionary Society workers first arrived in the Pacific, many Islanders new to the faith grasped the central place of mission very quickly and set out to bring the gospel to other islands, often among very different and sometimes hostile people groups. And many were devoting their lives to overseas mission 100 years later. In 1934 Samoan minister Mataio Saroa arrived in Papua with his wife Nuutai, who died from blackwater fever a year later. In 1937 one of Mataio’s children died, and he himself contracted the disease several times. In 1941 the family moved inland when the Japanese invaded, only to return when the Japanese left. A church was opened a year later. Many Polynesian Christians went to Melanesia in this way – to Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and present-day Vanuatu (New Hebridies). Many were matyred or died of disease. When news of someone losing their lives reached the country they had been sent from, in many cases others volunteered to take their place.
The Pacific2Nations movement wants to stir this legacy again in the hearts of the younger generation of Pacific Islanders, so that a fresh wave of mission partners may be sent out to the world.
Auckland pastor Lui Ponifasio says “We are not trying to recreate what our forefathers did in the 1800s and early 1900s, but we feel that they have handed over to us a strong legacy and a mandate to fulfill the heart of God by going to the nations, to unreached people groups as they did. This is our time”.
- for this year’s P2N conference (see here)
- for SIM, as we seek to engage with what God is doing in and from the Pacific.