This morning, Thursday, I had an appointment with Dr. Joe Koriovuata, Permanent Secretary for Social Services in Fiji. Dr. Joe is one of the founders of GIFT, the Christian doctor’s group we partner with here to do our medical outreaches. He has been a personal friend for many years. He was kind enough to send his car and driver to pick me up and take me to government house.
GIFT is building a new center just outside Suva where they will coordinate their ministry around the nation. Dr. Joe and his wife will live at this center after he most likely retires from government service later this year, though he has been asked by the Prime Minister to become Permanent Secretary for Health, an office he held prior to taking over Social Services.
GIFT wants to set up an in-house training and resource center on Biblical studies and evangelism to help their doctors become more proficient in the spiritual side of their ministry to the people we serve. I loaded WordSearch from my TUtP office computer onto my laptop so I could show Dr. Joe how that program could meet their requirements for reference resources more effectively than building an extensive library of hard-copy reference materials. I have dozens of sets of commentaries, over 30 translations of the Bible, and literally hundreds of other key books, all of which can be accessed in minutes and cross referenced in a number of interactive ways. Multiple thousands of dollars worth of materials are available at a keyboard stroke at far less cost than books. It is also a lot easier to carry a laptop with all these material available on-site during an outreach.
I have a contact at WordSearch who gives me tremendous discounts on whatever I buy for ministry purposes. In addition to the cash savings per product, he also has gifted me with dozens of titles at no cost. As a result, TUtP can provide GIFT with an extensive set of materials without worrying about how to transport everything into the country and through customs. Initially we hope to provide at least two desk top and two laptop computers loaded with WordSearch and ready for GIFT doctors to use.
I did, however, on this trip bring with me a complete set of N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament with notes in book form. I already have those in WordSearch, so don’t need them. I gave him one laptop, though we don’t yet have any reference sets to load until after my return to the States next month. Once I make the purchase, he can load everything onto that computer for immediate use.
While I was with Dr. Joe, I also discussed possible funding for programs at our TUtP women’s center in Namadi settlement just outside Suva. Dr. Joe immediately got on his phone and called Pastor Sotia, the director of the center, to arrange preliminary discussions regarding what kinds of programs Social Services might fund. Funds might also be available for the women’s center on Tuvacau Island where TUtP has set up a beekeeping project. Dr. Joe can assist Pastor Sotia to write up proposals that meet required government standards.
From Social Services I walked over the Anglican Cathedral in the center of town to meet with the Dean, Fthr. Claude Fong. I first met Fthr. Fong two or three years ago during one of my prior visits. He is a conservative, evangelical pastor who has a strong desire to see the Anglican seminary in Fiji return to strong, orthodox Biblical faith. He has asked me to help in that process. This seminary trains all their clergy for their churches scattered around the So. Pacific. We’re still working on what TUtP can offer by way of training. My son, Kevin, who is just completing his MA in theology from Regent University in Van Couver would like to come to Fiji and teach theology and philosophy for a couple of years prior to completing his doctorate. So he might be able to help.
After this meeting, my scant continental breakfast was rapidly leaving me wobbly and famished in the wilting heat of the late morning. So I hailed a cab and ate a hearty lunch before going on to my next meeting which was with Ratu Osea Gavidi, the Paramount Chief I have known since 2003. He has provided a great deal of wisdom and guidance during my many ministry trips into this great island nation.
Ratu will move from Suva back to his home village of Cuvu in Nadroga Province the end of March to take up a number of new responsibilities that relate to his leadership role as Paramount Chief. He had planned to retire soon. He is 72. Instead, he will be taking on increased responsibilities for the welfare of his people. He has a great servant heart.
Just as I was getting ready to return to downtown Suva to catch up on emails and eat my evening meal, a torrential downpour, replete with thunder and lightning erupted. It only lasted for about 30 minutes, but it was quite the show.
Now I’m back in my hotel room getting ready for tomorrow. I so appreciate your prayers. My stamina has held up. I continue to enjoy good sleep. It seems I will be able to meet with everyone I need to see before heading down to Nadi City next Monday.