There are an estimated 450 INC churches throughout the South Pacific, the majority of them being in Papua New Guinea with its larger population. There are also churches in Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga. Keeping track of the number of INC churches is not easy. They can spring up overnight following outreach meetings in some remote village. Or a church may be planted out from a larger church in one of the cities. And then there is the down side where some may just disappear because of isolation, young people moving to the cities and outside influences. Many still use the name of COC (Christian Outreach Centre)
Some rural churches in Vanuatu and Fiji.
Not all INC and COC churches have buildings but there is a great variety in the ones who do have their own building. Small buildings made of bush materials can be found in many villages where the people often sit on the ground and then they progress to making wooden benches to sit on. Highlands churches are closed in for warmth while coastal churches tend to allow the air flow through. In Fiji, government standards are stricter and most church buildings are of a permanent nature.
Some town and city churches in Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
Their goal is always to build a more permanent building even if they are still quite small. Larger churches are found in the cities or towns and plastic chairs are used to provide seating. In the cities, sometimes property is rented until they are able to build their own building. Their love of colour and decoration is always evident in their buildings with flowers, banners and curtains and even to the choice of tiles for their floors.
In their church services, the love of worship and praise and the welcome given make it easy for visitors to join in, even if the language is foreign to them.
Gathering together for conferences, crusades and “boot camps” provides life, inspiration, encouragement and accountability for the INC pastors in the South Pacific nations. Many of them are isolated in the mountains or on an island; some have had to face disasters such as cyclones, droughts, tsunamis or sickness. Conferences are held yearly on a national level where guest speakers from Australia or other nations are invited. Women’s and Youth Conventions are held from time to time on a regular basis. Their regional and provincial gatherings are also valuable times where they are also able to discuss matters of importance to them and they also hold Crusade type meetings at night.
Highlands Youth Conference, Kundiawa
Photos: Youth Conference in Highlands of PNG; National Conference Fiji; Youth Conference, North Vanuatu; Women heading to a Regional Women’s Conference in PNG.
INC Fiji held their Biennial Conference in May 2017 where they gathered at the Navua Garden of Joy church. Guest speakers were Oceania Chairman Pastor Ross Abraham, International Director of Global Care Pastor Peter Pilt and Pastor Iliesa Tamaniyaga from New Zealand.
Fiji National Conference May 2017
Coming Conferences for INC South Pacific are:
August 16 FIJI National Women’s Conference
September 4-7 VANUATU (Southern Provinces) at South Tanna.
September 26-29 PAPUA NEW GUINEA at Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Prov.
October 3-6 SOLOMON ISLANDS at Auki, Malaita Province.
December 8-12 VANUATU (Northern Provinces) at Luganville, Sanma Prov.
Developing a servant heart was the theme of the day for the children at the Gateway INC church at Nasinu. Washing each other’s feet was part of the lesson. Several weeks later it was learning about the armour of God.
Nasinu church has been the home of the Christian Outreach College in Fiji for the past 5 years, having spent 12 years at its previous venue at Nausori. Under the leadership of Ps Jona & Lucy Waqairagata, the College has produced many fine young Christian people. There are 117 students enrolled this year. They use the biblically based ACE curriculum purchased from Australia and in secondary years it is adapted to Australian or New Zealand programs in preparation for tertiary studies. Despite excellent results, they receive no funding from the government and the curriculum is barely covered by the school fees but God has provided in different ways over the years since the College started. This includes Lucy and her family coming to Australia in their holidays to earn money fruit-picking. The students have great opportunities to participate in conventions and sporting events against other children in the South Pacific. Great dedication to educating children to a high standard of Christian living is evident in their lives and in the church at Nasinu.
Photos: Nasinu children, College classroom scenes, student group attending convention in Australia in 2016
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