The Spirit of God is Moving in the South Pacific
Jesus said: "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" John 3:8 (NIV). And so it is when the Spirit of God is moving somewhere. You can see the evidence but you cannot see the Spirit itself. Considerable evidence has been gathered to conclude that the Spirit of God is moving in a special way in the South Pacific at this time. Seven pieces of evidence can be traced out of three influential countries in the region of the South Pacific: Australia, New Zealand and Fiji--to make a case that there is a special visitation of God to this part of the world. As a result of a trip in late June and July of this year to these countries I was able to observe for myself that indeed the Lord is on the move in the South Pacific. Why would you think that? First, because of ...
I. A vibrant colorful witness:
Marchers were decked out using the five Olympic colours signifying the five continents of the world. They bounced giant Earth balls with the continents painted across the heads of the participants. In Brisbane 200 Aussie horsemen led the 18,000 marchers from that city. In Sydney 50,000 people, double the expected number, marched to the Opera House. Suddenly two sky divers joined the colorful outdoor witness, dropping into the crowd right out of the sky.
In Melbourne and Adelaide, in spite of the rain, the largest Christian marches were recorded in recent history. Marchers in Adelaide rejoiced under the hail as they related the painful experience to the daily pain of the suffering church in Rwanda, Bosnia and other parts of the world. All told between 200,000 and 250,000 marchers participated across the country.
In Auckland, New Zealand, more than double the number of marchers came out than expected. The Auckland secular newspaper reported on the march of between thirty and forty thousand Christians, noting the words of Mr. Gary Lord, the chairman of the Auckland organizing committee. He said he had not expected to see so many people braving the blustering winter weather: "It's good to see that the Church is still alive, and so many different churches getting together."
On short notice, thousands of Christians from all traditions gathered for marches in the city of Suva and Labasa. The Suva march was filled with joy. The Prime Minister got caught up in the spirit of celebration. He publicly made the statement: "Jesus Christ is the Son of God." He rounded off his talk by leading the assembled masses with a series of emphatic Hallelujahs. The king himself led the March for Jesus in the island of Tonga. March co-ordinator and AD 2000 co- ordinator for Tonga, Iseleli anticipated 10,000 participants. However, 20,000 came. That is 20% of the total population of the island. The king led the marchers to the burial site of the first king of Tonga who had dedicated the country to Jesus Christ. There he rededicated his country to the Lord.
II. Unity of the Body of Christ - Joining Together in a Visible Expression of Unity
The unity of all believers was accomplished when the resurrection of Jesus broke down every wall that separated us. In the South Pacific, the Day to Change the World and especially the March for Jesus was a chance to experience the spiritual unity that already exists. One of the March for Jesus founders and the creator and arranger of the contagious music sung around the world, Graham Kendrick, was in the South Pacific for the launch of the global march and said: "Believers worldwide will be united for the largest praise and prayer gathering in the history of the world! We are uniting in saying that our common love for Jesus is more important than national and denominational differences." Across the country in all night Prayer Vigils, Australian Christians looked to God for the awakening of the Australian church. The Most Reverend Keith Rayner, Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, wrote that all this... "envisages a united Christian Witness..."
In Fiji it was only very recently that a new spirit of unity has come upon the church when inter-church differences were resolved through repentance and public confession. The united march on June 25th hailed a new chapter of Christian unity in Fiji. In New Zealand, the events of June 25th were symbolic of a growing unity of Christians in the country.
Discovering One Another in the Area of Ministry Passion
In each of the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, those Christian ministry leaders who were in the process of developing interdenominational and interorganizational networks by area of common vision and passion expressed the status and process by which these were developing in their region. By focusing their heart longings special groups are beginning to form in Australia.
Uniting Around a Common Vision
On June 7 the newly appointed Archbishop of the Anglican Church Dioceses of Sydney, The Most Reverend R H Goodhew, wrote the following in a letter to Mr. Graham Binet, chairman of AD 2000 Australia: "I was pleased to be able to talk with you recently about AD 2000. I have now had the opportunity to give further thought to the issues we discussed and I am happy to give my patronage to this movement."
In Fiji, the general secretaries of the Evangelical Fellowship of Fiji, the Evangelical Alliance of Fiji and the Council of Churches of Fiji were among a representative group of Christian leaders from this island country which met July 1. In the course of the meeting there was a proposal by the group to officially organize the AD 2000 Committee of Fiji which was unanimously approved. I was reminded again that the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000 is a common vision that is bringing together God's people in country after country around the world.
New Vision New Zealand has emerged as a catalyzing and unifying point for Christians of all denominations throughout the country under the theme: "A Fresh Vision for a New Decade." An unexpected degree of unity and depth of conviction descended upon a meeting on 27 Dec. 1990 from which New Vision New Zealand was launched. Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican church in New Zealand and Polynesia, Brian N. Davis noted: "New Vision is a joint exercise, supporting and resourcing the Decade. Many of our churches are committed to making the last ten years of this century a Decade of Evangelism."
III. Pursuit of Understanding Realities--Discovering Oneself in the Historical and Cultural Heritage of Australia
In his book, We Aussies, Mal Garvin seeks to rediscover the identity and destiny of the Australian. He brings out the unresolved national
issues of justice and mercy that require resolution. He arouses awareness of the role of the dominant culture and the historic forces that shaped it, identifying the positive and negative influences on the current mindset of the dominant culture and other historic and geographic forces. A new consciousness becomes the soil into which the seed of the Living Word explodes, bringing light and challenge to effective long-term resolution. This has been foundational to an invitation to respond to the Living Word and awaken to an hour of destiny for the church.
In the process there has been a growing awareness of the need for reconciliation between the white people and aboriginal peoples of Australia. Aborigine Bill Byrd has risen as the spokesman for the movement of reconciliation within Australia. He spoke to the vast Aussie crowd at the rally of the Day to Change the World, June 25th and appealed for reconciliation on the basis of Jesus' words when he said: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift" (Matt. 5:23-24) (NIV).
The reconciliation network includes those who share the same passion and has expanded to include other countries of the world as well. The goal of this movement is "we will have experienced reconciliation by the year 2000."
Thus, robed in contextual reality, seeing symbols of the culture, the Australian re-awakening is rooted in a fresh understanding of its history and culture.
Carefully documented research of current realities: New Zealand
Rediscovering their unique geographical and hisorical realities was an important feature of the New Zealanders' experience. One of the major issues in a fresh move of God in this land is that of understanding the New Zealanders' (Kiwi) prevailing worldview and cultural context.
Bruce Patrick, who emerged as the human leader of this initiative, wrote in the foreword of the Congress book: "It was evident from the outset that New Vision New Zealand was God's initiative. He has called the body of Christ... to a new understanding of how the church in the 1990's might meet the contemporary challenges of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)."
IV. Unifying vision for the countries
That Every Person in the Country May Hear the Gospel in a Relevant Way by the Year 2000 is the rallying cry of the younger leaders of Australia.
Representing different youth organizations they have developed a network over the past four years called NAYM whose strategy involves reaching every young person by the end of the decade.
In New Zealand a mission statement spells out clearly the unifying vision for the country which includes statements such as: "We will study obstacles posed by our secular society to the advancement of the kingdom of God and seek ways to overcome these. We will encourage Christian leaders to strengthen the quality and multiply the number of growing, caring, Christ centered churches until they are sufficient to affect the spiritual and social climate of New Zealand."
In Fiji, there is a common desire to begin linking under a common vision. Twenty representative leaders including the three general secretaries of the three major Christian umbrella organizations, the Evangelical Fellowship of Fiji, the Evangelical Alliance of Fiji and the Fijian Council of Churches expressed the desire to form an AD 2000 Fijian Committee for the purpose of rallying around a common unifying vision for the country of Fiji as we approach the year 2000. Neville Wilson was asked to be the coordinator of this committee. New Zealander
One of the first tasks will be the conducting of a countrywide, detailed survey of the unfinished task. Ross Campbell, who has worked in Ghana for many years, surveying the unfinished task there shared the unifying vision of this work.
V. Growing vision for the Unreached
New Zealand still enjoys the position of one of the highest missionaries per capita ratios in the world. They are among the major missionary-contributing countries in countries like Pakistan, (28), Papua New Guinea, (145), fourth largest in the Philippines with 100 and in Thailand (58). Neville Wilson, until recently, the regional director for YWAM in the South Pacific, observed in the recent meeting of Christian leaders in Fiji that Fiji was the country with the highest per capita involvement in frontier missions of any other country in the world.
Australia: Rural Town Churches Say "Yes" to A Night of Missions
Under the umbrella of the Australian AD 2000 and Beyond Movement, YWAM Australia initiated an interdenominational and inter- organizational effort to involve Australian churches in reaching unreached peoples. In the first state where they launched their night of missions, the state of Victoria, they travelled to all 75 small towns and presented it for churches to come together in the town for a night of missions. Out of 75 towns they received positive responses from 60. They have scheduled to do this over 11 weeks with two teams. It's fantastic!
South Pacific Missions Conference Planned for 10,000
Fiji's involvement in sending cross-cultural missionaries goes back to 1875 when eight Fijians were sent out by churches in Fiji to Papua New Guinea.
One half of the force soon lost their lives. The remaining four persevered and many on the coastlands and some in the nearby mountainous areas came to Christ through the ministry of the Fijians. By 1920 some 200 Fijians had been sent off as missionaries. Because of the color of their skin and cultural heritage Fijians are very well accepted in many parts of the world.
The AD 2000 & Beyond Movement has been invited to co-sponsor a Missions Conference being planned for 10,000 people, to be held in October 1994. The conference director is Suliasi Kurulo of Every Home for Christ in Fiji. Ross Campbell, Staff Associate for Countrywide Initiatives; has been asked to assist in the process of assessing and recommending organizational and structural channels to the anticipated rapid increase in mission sending from Fiji and the South Pacific Islands. Registrations have already begun to come and participants are expected to come form all of the islands in the South Pacific.
VI. Lay People Take Initiative
Using their gifts and influence from credible contributions in their communities in the secular world, distinguished leaders Graham Binet and Peter Daniels play a key role in the cause of Christ in their countries.
In the midst of overseeing the proposal writing and presentation of a multi-billion dollar asset --the Sydney Water Works project, Graham Binet, a partner with one of the Big Eight Public Accountancy Firms of Price Waterhouse, participated in Australian AD 2000 activities in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Graham serves as the Chairman of AD 2000 Australia and has been actively engaged in the development of the AD 2000 vision within Australia.
I felt so foolish calling Graham Binet from the airport in Seoul. Due to a grave oversight I had not obtained my visa to Australia. The QANTAS official said unequivocally that I could not enter Australia without a visa.
Less than two hours prior to departure on a Sunday evening I called Graham to advise him of the situation and ask him if he could do anything. From previous experience he indicated he doubted that he could. However, within a half an hour of my request the same QANTAS official who had said "No way" was calling an immigration officer in Australia. With two minutes to spare to the closing time of check-in for the flight, a telex from the Immigration authority in Australia said: "Due to intercession of Mr. Graham Binet, uplifted granted."
Peter Daniels provided the initiative and oversight for the AD 2000 launch in South Australia. Some 200 church leaders and key Christian figures in greater Adelaide participated.
Peter Daniels had only a narrow time window in Adelaide between two long international trips. As President of one of the largest Entrepreneurial Management Training Centers in the world, Peter has trained thousands of business executives around the world. Yet, his notable business skills directed at the launching provided a significant evening for key leaders in Adelaide to come to grips with the initiative of God within Australia and the world in this decade.
VII. Individuals with a Spiritual Heart-longing for their Country Mal Garvin Mal Garvin, the AD 2000 co-ordinator for Australia, leads a youth ministry called Fusion which has 25 centers around the country, 35 associate centers and 200 field workers. In 1988 Mal co- ordinated a prayer rally at the parliamentary house in Canberra that many Australians see as the beginning of an Aussie Awakening. That same year Mal led the redeeming Easter initiative which each year has seen more Christians out on Easter Sunday in marches of celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mal was responsible for the June 25th activities related to the Day to Change the World in Australia.
Suli, as he is affectionately known, serves as the director of Every Home for Christ for the South Pacific. At the same time, he pastors a lively congregation of 800 members in Suva. Suli encourages his staff of 100 people spread throughout the Fiji Islands in their efforts to take the gospel to every family in Fiji. This is the third time that this saturation evangelism is being done with Christian literature throughout Fiji. Suli also has seen the potential of the missionary role of the South Pacific Islanders which has led him to take the initiative to hold a Missions Festival for the whole region in October that is expected to draw as many as 10,000 people.
Bruce's passion for New Zealand is summarized in his challenge to the congress participants of New Vision New Zealand when he wrote: "If the Church in New Zealand is going to turn around, it will only happen as God reveals a new vision for the Church--and as we perceive it, articulate it, and own it." In addition to leading New Vision New Zealand, Bruce pastors a Baptist church know as The Tab in the heart of Auckland.
Substantial evidence suggests that God is on the move in the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand and Fiji are testimonies to a fresh move of the Spirit of God as we approach the end of this century. They are discovering or rather, rediscovering, their destiny in this decade of destiny. Fueled by 1 A vibrant colorful witness, 2. Unity of the Body of Christ, 3. Pursuit of understanding contextual realities, 4. A unifying vision for the countries, 5. A growing vision for the unreached, 6. Lay people taking initiative, and 7. Individuals with a spiritual heart-longing for their country. A reawakening to God and His purposes is taking place in the South Pacific as we approach the year 2000. Praise the Lord!
(Luis Bush is the International Director of the AD2000 Movement which has its headquarters in Colorado Springs Colorado. If you would like to support this movement, you may do so by writing to them at: AD2000 & Beyond Movement 2860 South Circle Dr., Suite 2112, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 or phone 719-576-2000)