Students celebrate year end by serving in community
A church in Fiji will worship in its own building after our students volunteered two weeks of their holidays (November 19-December 2) for a renovation you helped fund.
The Nadi Central Church meets at the home of member Anasa Vateitei but has been gifted land closer to the town centre. An exisiting 12- by seven-metre wooden structure has now been prepared and painted by the students, who in “exhausting” hot and humid conditions also helped build walls, a stage and frames for doors and windows.
The quality and quantity of the work impressed Anasa, who joined the students onsite. “I applaud their commitment and strength. If they knew how much they’d be doing, I’m not sure they’d have come. The members here, and my colleagues [Anasa is the the Education Director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji], will not forget them.”
Nor will the local children, who enjoyed a kids’ club presented by the students three afternoon a week. A visit to sister institution Fulton Adventist University College for Friday evening vespers, a Sabbath regional at which 60 young adults were baptised, a snorkelling and scuba diving adventure, and a kindergarten graduation filled out the itinerary.
Chaplain Priscilla Mariassouce also set the students “Give,” “Serve” and “Love” challenges to encourage them to connect with the community. They “willingly responded and did so with intentionality,” said Avondale University Church Lead Pastor Norman Hurlow.
“Over the past two weeks, we’ve worked until we’ve dropped, sang until our lungs gave out and sweated more than we ever thought humanly possible,” says Leila Davis, a ministry and theology student. “But for every act of service, the church community has returned tenfold. They’ve fed us heartily, championed us wholly and nurtured us completely. They’ve created a sense of matuvavale [family], even with strangers like us.”
With the students covering expenses such as flights and accommodation, all the money raised—$17,000 from alumni and friends of Avondale, including an offering at Homecoming—helped purchase materials for the renovation and the kids’ club. “God has provided all,” says Anasa. “He gifted us the land—the best available. He helped the students raise the money. And then He sent them to renovate the building. This is a 14-year-long answer to prayer.”
While the students and the members will gather for the first service in the renovated building tomorrow (Saturday, December 2), the church hopes to begin permanently worshipping there early in the new year once bathroom renovations are complete.
The church is growing, says Anasa. So, his vision is for the renovated building to become a centre of influence, with extensions for a health hub, a community kitchen and a children’s space.