“My life has fresh meaning”, said Aliva at the teams final meeting.
And as our Golden, Golden Oldie, Keith our oldest member at 82 summed up the teams feeling quite succinctly by stating, “this week has been quite remarkable”.
Archbishop Winston for Polynesia, at a farewell at the Bible College prior to the teams departure for the resort said, “I think your Junior Golden Oldie, Andrea, sums up all your reflections, ‘this mission has changed me’ and your coming has in fact changed us all. Now I announce that the Golden Oldies Mission is to be an important part of missions to our Islands going forward into the future”.
The Golden Oldies were welcomed by villages that had never hosted a ‘white group’ before, dining with squatters that are about to be evicted off their land they have lived on since birth, meeting children at the Church-supported school achieving academically against all odds considering many walk from squatter villages to attend school, to fellowshipping in churches from tin sheds to the decaying oldest church on the island urgently in need of restoration, to communing with the bible college students and their families at the bible college hostel, to relaxing and reflecting on all this experience at a tourist resort.
The mission has been life-challenging, life changing, and there was a genuine consensus that “we need to walk the talk”. Joe, the Church Projects Coordinator and our guide throughout this mission told us,
“We must move missions away from handouts to our villages and people. We need to give them training and resources to help them help themselves. Help us buy the fishing rods, teach them how to use them, and not just continue to feed them with fish that doesn’t break this cycle of poverty”.
And so the team launched the establishment of the ‘Golden Oldies Mission Development Fund’.
A fund to support people and projects, in partnership with the church, to build the Kingdom of God in Fiji. Funding of Fj$10,000 had already been raised prior to coming on mission, and this money is the first contribution to supporting people and projects identified.
The team from its mission visitations have initially endorsed the following ministries they would like to pursue supporting: education scholarships for students to attend school and/or tertiary training; a vocational building adjacent to Basden College; a toilet block at St John’s Church in the Valley; the Boys Brigade ICONZ programme introduced and adapted to Fijian children/youth; children’s books for the villages and theological books for the Churches/Bible College; a stove for ‘aunty’ at the bible college; and financial support for church staff, like Joe, to provide more developmental assistance to these schools, villages, and churches.
One final observation. The poorer the village/church, the greater the generosity of gifts showered upon the team and hospitality offered.
Yes it has been a ‘remarkable’ mission.
The first ever ‘Golden Oldies Mission,’ and God-willing and with his leading, the beginning of a new chapter in missions, with our wonderful Golden Oldies, recruited as a new wave of foot soldiers returning to the frontline, leading the charge!
Golden Oldies Mission Team Leader
19-27 August 2012