Answers to Prayer
1 The strength of Christianity in the Pacific.The Pacific was one of the first areas to be evangelized in the modern Protestant missionary era. By the end of the 19th Century most of the Pacific region had become Christian through the sacrificial labours of early LMS, Methodist, Anglican and Pacific Islander missionaries. Missionary casualties were high through disease, violent death and cannibalism.
2 Great people movements over the past 200 years have brought whole peoples and islands to Christianity. Some of the most strongly Protestant Christian nations in the world are in this region. These people movements continue to this day in Papua New Guinea.
3 A renewal in the 1990s of the Pacific Islander missionary vision of the 19th Century. In recent years, New Zealand has had a good record in sending out missionaries.
Hot Spots in the Pacific
1 Fiji’s unhappy, recent history of coups and tension between indigenous Fijians and the large ethnic Indian population remains unresolved.
2 Bougainville Island’s 10-year war for independence from Papua New Guinea is still not settled despite a cease-fire in 1998.
3 The Solomon Islands has endured inter-ethnic tensions and fighting since 1998 which has affected the stability and economy of the country. The underlying issues need resolution.
Trends to Watch
1 Historic wrongs associated with the arrival of Europeans are at last beginning to be faced.
a) The British handling of Australia and its penal colonies.
b) Wrongs done to the indigenous populations — those most affected being the Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and Fijians.
Christians needs to be in the forefront in doing all possible to achieve fair reconciliations, honour cultural distinctives and lay foundations for inter-ethnic harmony.
2 The struggle for survival of many isolated island communities is threatened by modernity and globalization, economic unviability, large scale unemployment, heavy dependence on aid, isolation from health, education and modern consumer goods, together with increasing costs for inter-island travel.
The Church in the Pacific
1 The decline of Christianity is especially acute in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia with a rapid rise in secularism, family breakdown and indifference to spiritual things. The churches need new vision, flexibility in methods and understanding of cultural changes to communicate a relevant biblical message and become a more effective discipling community.
2 Nominalism in the Pacific Islands has increased due to inadequate teaching on true repentance, personal faith and the need for a daily walk with the Lord. This has led to a widespread misunderstanding of the true nature of the gospel, syncretistic beliefs, unmodified political power structures and, in Melanesia, a range of syncretistic cults.
3 The rapid growth of Mormonism in Polynesia, winning many nominal Protestants, is a rebuke to the traditional churches. Polynesia is rapidly becoming Mormon — especially Tonga and the two Samoas which are over 20% Mormon.
4 The relative failure to launch an effective inter-state evangelical network. The Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific has struggled with the low degree of cooperation among Evangelicals in many countries, lack of unifying vision, lack of finance and the high costs of travel.
5 The need to revive a missions vision. After a century of decline in missions commitment in the Islands, renewed vision has sprung up. The Deep Sea Canoe Mission was founded in 1989 to stimulate vision, identify and train missionaries and channel them overseas. The New Zealand record in sending missionaries has been good, and those of Fiji and Papua New Guinea are increasing.
6 Completing the task of world evangelization in the Pacific.
a) Remaining unevangelized and unoccupied tribes in New Guinea’s interior — a few such still exist. Many more are only superficially evangelized.
b) The few evangelical believers in parts of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and on many of the nominally Christian island groups. Some areas need to be re-evangelized.
c) The Indians of Fiji, the largest unreached people in the Pacific. Pray for effective evangelization of these Muslims and Hindus.
d) The Chinese are increasing through immigration. In some islands this is for trade or low-paid labour; in Australia and New Zealand it is as professionals. Many small trading communities remain unevangelized.
e) Bible translation. This is a major necessity. What remains to be done is being researched, but many hundreds of smaller language groups may still need translators.