God is transforming lives in Fiji. Read more about this district and its strategy for effective ministry.
Kafoa Muaror is the district superintendent (DS) of the Fiji district on the Asia-Pacific Region of the Church of the Nazarene. He also serves as the president of the General Board.
HT: What are some of the challenges facing churches in Fiji and the surrounding islands?
KM: Since Christianity came to these island communities, it has been embraced as a normal part of the culture. While there are good things about this, it has also, at times, diluted the message. When Christianity becomes nominal—in name only—the transforming power of the message of the gospel can be undermined.
We are not the only region to deal with this, of course, but it is a real challenge among people here. Although there is familiarity with Christianity, deep transformation is not always reflected in the lives of those who claim to know Jesus. So, our challenge is to encourage a deeper pursuit through Scripture, prayer, and obedience to the Holy Spirit’s call to transformation. This is the call of holiness, and the Church of the Nazarene is well equipped to be part of this call.
HT: What impact have you seen in regard to the ministry of the Church of the Nazarene in the South Pacific?
KM: Having grown up in the South Pacific, I have witnessed the strong work of churches and leaders, including my own predecessor, in emphasizing the holistic transformation that the gospel and the message of holiness provides. Specifically, it is a call to love deeply and to forgive freely. We often echo those key elements of the gospel, and we have seen people respond to the call to be transformed in this way.
I am an ordained minister, but my other vocation is a lawyer with a finance background. Before becoming an ordained minister, I was able to see firsthand how God is more than enough in regard to guidance, wisdom, and provision for our journey. So, as DS, I want our team of leaders to seek God’s wisdom and to learn to trust God’s adequacy in all things.
This means relying on God’s ways instead of approaches that the world offers as alternatives.
Our communities in this area of the world believe in vital and exciting worship experiences, and this is a good thing. However, the message we are emphasizing is that we carry those vital experiences out into our lives and that we live out the transforming power of the gospel daily.
HT: Describe the impact of being a connected community of Nazarenes in regard to the needs of the Pacific Islands.
KM: The impact has been far-reaching. A few years ago, the general church agreed with our proposal of needing a district center to train pastors and to bring in people outside of the islands to enhance the discipleship of our communities. Through the World Evangelism Fund and other acts of generosity, we now have a district ministry center.
This place has become not only a place of rest and retreat for our pastoral families—all of whom are bivocational—but it has also provided a place of relief for the community during natural disasters. Furthermore, it is the hub for training those called to ministry and for continuing education. We can bring in speakers to encourage and train our pastors to do the work they are called to do. This is one of many examples of being a connected church, but it has been the most impactful in regard to our goal of bringing a message of deep transformation to our area.
HT: Do you have recent stories of transformation to share?
KM: We are thankful that through prayer and reliance upon God, we are seeing some wonderful stories unfold. Recently, the pastor of a church from a small island south of Fiji came to me ready to quit. He was a businessman who was also ordained and was trying to pastor a church and maintain his business, all while trying to be a good husband and father. The limited resources and the discouragement of the people he served added to his own sense of discouragement, and his marriage and ministry were beginning to crumble.
We helped him attend a prayer conference at the newly constructed district center, and he had a deep experience with God. He went home with a renewed sense of reliance upon God, and God begin to redirect his own calling and priorities. At the last district assembly, he and his wife reported a renewal in their own marriage, as well as creative ways God had opened doors of ministry for the church. These included a new “church by boat” ministry, where the congregation is able to go from reef to reef by boat and bring worship services and supplies to those who were not able to consistently attend the church he pastors.
Our church in Granville on Fiji was down to just a few people in attendance. God called Pastor Rupeni, Director of Social Services for the Fijian government, to pastor there. Through prayer, reliance on God, and a renewed emphasis on connecting to the needs of their community, this church is now growing. The newest “problem” this church is having is the kind all DSs desire to have: they have asked if they can take out an outer wall to create more room for worship! This is the kind of “problem” that happens when deep transformation occurs in individuals and communities.
HT: What can other regions and district learn from these stories of transformation?
KM: Every district is different, of course. Many people do not realize that Fiji itself has a diversity of cultures, and the Pacific Islands are comprised of five different countries and many cultures. We have to take this seriously and approach each other with humility and, at times, forgiveness for past disputes.
We emphasize prayer, reliance upon God, patience as God moves us forward, and deep engagement with Scripture.
We are also calling our leaders to rediscover the discipline of fasting. We encourage our leaders to consistently practice fasting as a way to realign our priorities and to deepen our relationship with God.
The importance of utilizing and adapting resources for training both our new and long-serving pastors has allowed us to see great victories in the lives of our pastors and churches. Finally, as we encounter cultural challenges, we are working together to make sure that the ways of Jesus taught to us in Scripture prevail over our cultural norms, even if that means going against cultural norms. This way, we can embrace diversity while also pointing people to a higher way, the way of Jesus Christ.
Holiness Today, Mar/Apr 2019