Mission Trip to Fiji
by Roberta Schneider
May 29 TO June 14, 2004
Before going to Fiji, I couldn't help but wonder why God was sending me there. It's very far away...
I know that if I had learned a couple of months ago about the revival in Fiji, I probably would have backed out of going, thinking, "I'm not up to that! - I'm not a strong witness or intercessor or 'warrior'!" But I can see that I was just looking at myself and not at what God can do! And it occurred to me that perhaps there's one person in Fiji who needs to hear my testimony. God would do that...send someone half-way 'round the world for the sake of one person.
I went as a member of The Jesus Film Project team, under the umbrella of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). Our team from the U.S. numbered 17 and shortly after our arrival in Fiji, we experienced our first miracle! On a dark and rainy night, one of the vans in which we were being driven from the airport, stopped for gas at what looked like an open station. This was somewhere in the middle of our two-hour drive at 4:00am. No one was around at the station so we just kept going...and about 30 feet from our hotel entrance, the van ran out of gas! But there we were, at our destination!
From here on we were to split into three groups, with a CCC staff person directing us. The staff persons, Masi and Joe, both Fijians, were the ones who received the strategy from God, made the contacts, and directed us as to what to do and where to go. We wanted to reach the Indian people who populated certain areas of the towns we went to.
The evening film showings were to be in Hindi, so we went out in the morning to Indian settlements, door-to-door to invite the people. Actually, it turned out that some Fijian people were living in what we thought were exclusively Indian areas, so we visited with them too. All of the Fijians were welcoming; all of them inviting us in to share the Gospel.
We were not to concentrate so much on distributing the flyers we had that identified the location and time of the film showing, but we were to take time to share a re-named version of "The Four Spiritual Laws" called, "Would You Like to Know God Personally?"
If there were a number of family members at home, our leader, Joe, had us pair off to guide them through the message of the Gospel, and if they wanted to, pray the prayer to accept Christ. They were so open to this, and many people prayed that prayer! It was so simple.
Even after visiting homes that first day, I led a young woman to Christ at a bus stop!
If the Indian people weren't open to hearing the Gospel, they were open to having us pray for them. Most requests were for healing prayer, and so I prayed for a woman who was blind, one who was deaf, one who had back pain... We prayed and then moved on, leaving the results with God.
Many people, both Indians and Fijians live in underprivileged conditions... very small houses made of corrugated steel, no indoor plumbing, one or two fluorescent lights. And because we had experienced eight days of rain after arriving, there were puddles and mud in the lanes that connect them to each other and to the main road.
No matter how humble their home, many gladly welcomed us in, had us sit down and offered us tea. There were a lot of small children at home, even school-age children - and they were so friendly and curious.
Our team split up and showed the "Jesus" film in two or three different locations each night. (Although there were two nights that first week when we had to cancel because of the heavy rain.) We would arrive about an hour early to set up the screen, projector, sound system, find a source of electricity, and spread out tarps on the ground for people to sit on. (In some locations there were benches or pews, but always tarps for the children.) We were using a reel-to-reel projector and there were four reels, each 30 min. long. In between reels, someone would give their testimony, or we'd do a skit, sing a song, whatever.
After a few showings, I was asked to be prayer coordinator during the showings and had team members pray during each of the four reels. This made a difference! Not only a better response, but also better directions from the leader and less confusion with what people were asked to do following the film. There also seemed to be more efficient set up and take down.
Our connections were made by local pastors from various denominations: Methodist, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal, etc. The film would often be shown at the home of one of their parishioners, on the front lawn of their home, with a large screen that could be seen by their neighbors, and with speakers blaring the soundtrack throughout the neighborhood. This attracted people who may not have gotten a flyer or personal invitation!
At the end of the movie, a brief explanation and an invitation was given to receive Christ. There was opportunity for people to pray the prayer together, then we went through the crowd to distribute Comment Cards and pencils. This was for the purpose of knowing these options: (1) They prayed to receive Christ, (2) They recommitted their lives to Christ, (3) They want to know more about Jesus, (4) They want to be in a Bible study. In this way, we were able to get a count of the various decisions, and the pastors were able to follow up with these people and help them to grow in their Christian life.
It was this method that was questioned by a man from Australia who was running a Christian adventure camp for youth way up on a hill. In fact, he invalidated evangelism in favor of discipleship. But after he came down from the hill and saw the "Jesus" film, saw how the Gospel was presented, then the follow-up method that was used, he got a vision for how he could evangelize and connect with new converts and begin to disciple them!
God provided a major advantage to the Campus Crusade staff in Fiji by sending a man on our team from California, with his assistant, who brought with them a video projector, a different kind of screen setup and electrical hookup. He bought a large boom box there in Fiji to use as an easy-to-learn sound system to show the "Jesus" video. He trained the Fijians how to use everything, then donated the equipment to them. What a difference, showing the video instead of the film! A much simpler set-up, much improved visual, color and sound, with no breaks to change the reel.
These two men took another young man from the team and for three days went into the rugged interior of the main island where in one village there was no electricity. The Fijian CCC leaders knew this and sent a generator with them; however, the video projector requires 1600 watts and they were getting only about 900 from the generator. So the electricity kept spiking and caused the video projector to burn out. Smoke was billowing from it, but the guys prayed over it, and it worked again!!
Once we began using the videos, one in Hindi and one in Fijian, we added a VeggieTales for the children and an animated video about Creation and the Fall. Then we added "The Jesus Film for Children." On another island to which we went, the videos were shown during the day at a primary school. 43 out of 45 children prayed and asked Jesus into their heart!!
Two personal experiences, from the record in my journal:
"June 3...We (Joe, Jesusa and I) weren't going to every home, just "selected" ones, and we happened on this one: At one home-a bit larger with a wall around it, we were invited in. The man we talked to on the veranda, whose name was Philemon, had come from his home on a small island that day because his mother was very sick and dying. She was inside, as were several other family members. Philemon shared that they were all Christians and that his mother had just accepted Jesus eight days ago. She was to be baptized that afternoon by her pastor. We were asked to come in and pray for her. On the way into her bedroom, Joe said to me, "You pray." She was there on a mattress on the floor with people sitting around two sides of it. The mother was so frail, a very elderly 76. She did have a fever and was unconscious. I knelt beside her and prayed (I don't remember what!) And I sang a song of worship, joined in by the others the second time around. It was a holy moment. The woman next to me-I think it was her daughter-kissed my hand and thanked me. Joe closed in prayer in Fijian and we clapped."
"June 9..."Upon leaving the site of the video showing in the dark, I fell into a ditch that was 2' deep and hurt my right knee a little and my left knee and the left side of my chest a lot.. It felt like a nasty bruise, a pulled muscle and perhaps a cracked rib or two, all at the same time. I was told later that there was a big cinder block in the ditch. Praise God nothing was cut or broken! A team member prayed for my knees as we left in the van, and they were healed!! The chest pain subsided a bit more each day and was not a hindrance."
God's purpose in sending me to Fiji?? I know it's more than the stats, but what an amazing blessing to be a part of this harvest of souls: 1,767 people saw the "Jesus" film; 467 prayed to receive Christ at the film showings; 94 prayed to receive Christ during our door-to-door sharing; and 177 people rededicated their lives to Christ.
During my personal devotions, the Lord was speaking in one way or another about the rising sun, or the dawn, or identifying Himself as the bright and Morning Star. After three days, in my slowness, it occurred to me that I was in the geographical place where every new day dawns. So I pray, in a spiritual sense, that my path, and that of all the righteous, will grow brighter and brighter until the light of full day. (Proverbs 4:18)
He says, in Malachi 1:11 that "From the rising of the sun to its setting, My name is to be praised before all nations.." And so I praise Him with all my heart.
In September this year a dozen or so global ministries* will be converging on Fiji for evangelism, construction, city-wide clean-up projects, water projects, business seminars, Bible training courses and more. They want church teams to come! Fiji is strategic for reaching other islands in the South Pacific with the Gospel.
*These ministries include not only Campus Crusade for Christ, but Youth With a Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Luis Palau Evangelistic Assn., The Sentinel Group, CitiReach Int'l. and Living Stones Foundation.