The light of Jesus is shining brightly in the Solomon Islands. The qb tracks a recent visit by QB Regional Consultants (pp28-29, The qb, June 2012).
QB Regional Consultants visit the Solomon Islands
Last year, QB General Superintendent, David Loder, and South Seas Evangelical Church Bishop, Matthias Lima, signed a partnership agreement between the two denominations designed to build a relationship whereby each encourages the other to grow in their relationships with God and with the ministry to which God has called them.
At the end of March, QB Regional Consultants Stephen Ball, Col Peaker and Steve Twible went to spend time and minister with three of the six SSEC regional superintendents in their regions. The SSEC is a denomination of some 600 churches with a church community of around 100,000 people. They trace their Christian history back to Queensland where the Solomon Islanders were brought by force to work in the cane fields and heard the Christian Gospel for the first time. When they returned home they took the good news of Jesus with them and many people came to faith. Over the years many Queensland Baptists and churches have served and assisted the Solomon Island church so there is a long history of relationship between us.
Stephen Ball ministered in Northern Malaita. He writes:
After a brief stopover at Honiara to get our bearings, I set off by boat to the Northern Region on the northern part of Malaita accompanied by Simeon Robson, the SSEC Secretary of Education. On arrival I was met by the Northern Regional Superintendent, the Rev Peter Maesulitala, who was my host for the week.
From the main town, Auki, we drove to the eastern side of Malaita to the Bible School at Fera’abu where I was involved in presenting a two-day seminar for 30 pastors and leaders as well as preaching in the local church. This program was repeated at Kakara on the western side of Malaita—60 pastors participated. Both seminars focused on studying the book of 2 Timothy. The churches in this part of the Solomons have faced particular challenges from those who have departed from the authority of Scripture and sought fresh revelation which supersedes the authority of Scripture. The authority of Scripture and guarding the gospel from false teaching were particularly relevant to their situation. A particular concern for the pastors was that people were being attracted from the churches by those preaching a prosperity doctrine.
The graciousness and hospitality of my hosts was wonderful. They shared generously out of their limited resources. Building a good relationship with Rev Peter Maesulitala was a highlight. He is a courageous leader with a love for his people and a desire that they would stand firm under the teaching of God’s Word.
A fierce tropical low that hit the Solomons made returning to Honiara a real challenge—nine hours on a boat and much sea sickness; however, preaching at Honiara Central Church on the final Sunday and the service being broadcast around the nation was an unexpected blessing.
Col Peaker ministered the Makira Province. He writes:
I worked with SSEC Regional Superintendant, the Rev Shadrack Ha’aaru, at Kirkira. There are some 58 pastors spread around the island and 20 pastors and elders attended the week long seminar series. The island is remote so the pastors came by boat or walked for many hours. The people of Makira are a gentle, welcoming, sincere people who really enjoyed the wider fellowship.
Local church women graciously provided all meals—a big commitment by these communities, especially since some delegates were held in Kirakira by bad weather after the seminar finished. Their hospitality was much appreciated.
The seminar sessions focused on ‘Godly Leadership’ based on the first eight chapters of Nehemiah, and in the afternoons, casual discussions with delegates gave insight into local customs and culture, and provided good opportunities to build relationships. Then, in the evenings, the local people gathered for a service. The primary goal of building relationships with our counterparts in SSEC appears to have been very effectively met and a good foundation in building the partnership with SSEC has been laid.
Steve Twible ministered on the Islands of Rennell and Bellona. He writes:
Bellona and Rennell are located approximately 200 km south-west of Honiara. While the majority of people in the Solomon Islands are Melanesian, the 3000 people of Rennell and Bellona are Polynesian. It’s a very remote region and there are often food shortages. A supply boat visits only quarterly (if it comes) so the people rely heavily on their gardens and the sea. There is no running water on Bellona, so people rely on rainwater and coconut juice.
Not knowing what to expect, I soon discovered that they are a beautiful people who welcomed me with arms wide open and accepted me for who I was. I began the first half of the week at Bellona leading sessions on the subject of Christian leadership. I also preached on several occasions; it was very exhausting, but also very exhilarating.
I then travelled on to the Island of Rennell to repeat the teaching and preaching. On both islands they embraced the sessions with enthusiasm, and they continued to reflect and discuss the teaching long after the sessions finished. They are so keen to learn from the Scriptures. Some of the pastors at Rennell walked for two days to attend.
The highlight for me was getting to know my counterpart, Derek Pongie, the Regional Superintendent for the Renbell province. While we come from different cultures and languages, we soon discovered we had much in common, especially because we both had remote churches in our regions and faced similar issues. We also discovered we had the same sense of humour and a firm friendship was forged over the ten days spent together.
As I reflect on this trip to the Solomon Islands, I can say it was a very stretching and exhausting time, but it was also very rewarding. I was touched to see how much people appreciated the visit, and how people were encouraged to see the formation of a partnership between SSEC and Queensland Baptists.
Bishop Matthias writes:
The South Sea Evangelical Church (SSEC) of Solomon Islands is thankful to the Lord for the fruitful and blessed ministry of the three QB Consultants from March 24 – April 3. Their engagement in teaching and preaching the word in three SSEC regions transformed and built lives. The under-privileged leaders in the remote churches greatly benefitted from the sound teaching of the scriptures which built their spiritual lives and equipped them for effective ministry. The training is an historic one for them. All seminar topics under God’s guidance were relevant to the contemporary needs of the SSEC. We appreciated the simplicity and sacrifice of these men in the context of Solomon Islands’ culture.
The other value of the visit for the SSEC was the building of relationships with the leadership of QB as a way forward in strengthening our Partnership. Our Regional Superintendents enjoyed building relationships with their counterparts and used the opportunity to exhort and pray for one another. The equal sharing of their roles and experiences provided opportunity for exchange learning.
The SSEC is looking forward to a God-honouring implementation of our Partnership through increased future exchange visits. I highly commend QB for its spiritual investment in building lives and leaders in Solomon Islands.