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First-Ever South Pacific Forum

editor - 7 December 2017

At the beginning of November a group of New Zealand and South Pacific affiliates assembled in Auckland, New Zealand, for the very first Christians for Israel South Pacific Training Forum. Christians for Israel representatives from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Rarotonga/Cook Islands and Niue assembled at Willow Park Christian Camp in Eastern Beach, Auckland, for three days of training and strategising. Joined by several other Pacific Island supporters and the New Zealand staff and board members, the time together was very intense, but also a time of amazing learning, support, encouragement and celebration.

With many of the sessions opening with beautiful music, the conference centre often rang with the powerful voices of the Pacific Island nations as various delegates brought their own island flavour to our worship. These same voices shared a considerable passion right throughout the South Pacific, a love for Israel.

Christians for Israel has been slowly planted throughout the South Pacific over the last few years largely through the work of Dr Robert Siakimotu, sent from the C4I New Zealand office in Auckland. C4I Fiji has now been up and running for several years and is growing from strength to strength under Lepani Makubuna, while many of the smaller island nations are now in various formative stages. Poi Okesene (Nuie), Mataafa Suisamoa (Samoa), Bob Williams (Cook Islands) and Barry Taukolo (Tonga), joined by several other fellow Pacific Islanders, are moving ahead with the development of Christians for Israel affiliates in each nation.

Although some of these countries are relatively small islands in the vast Pacific Ocean, they echo a resounding support and affinity with Israel and the Jewish people. About as far away from Jerusalem as one can travel, these nations have their own unique challenges. As the delegates spent time in planning and addressing strategies to continue growing the work, the realities of distance often raised queries. Even the cost of shipping resource materials to these countries is a challenge that must be worked through. Issues of communication and isolation also had to be addressed. Some of these countries have had huge portions of their communications systems destroyed by recent cyclones, making email and even cellular networks intermittent at best until repairs are made.

Christians for Israel International Executive Director Andrew Tucker flew all the way from Holland to lead the training, bringing the experience and resource of the international office to the delegates. Assisted by C4I New Zealand director Bryce Turner, a clear and determined path was worked out for each island nation, focussing on key areas of growth and expansion. The South Pacific representatives all bring huge experience and respect to their Christians for Israel roles, many involved in government and church leadership positions in their various islands.

The delegates were also visited by Mr Shmulik Fried of Keren Hayesod, also visiting New Zealand from Jerusalem. His presentation on Aliyah brought home the very real plight of so many Jewish brothers and sisters struggling to return to Israel. We look forward to great things in the South Pacific in the future, including joining our representative in Vanuatu, Martin Sokomanu. Having such strong support for Israel in these, the farthest reaches of the earth will be very encouraging for our Israeli brothers and sisters.

 

Interview by Cathy Coldicutt,
Managing Editor Israel & Christians Today

Hello, Bula vinaka, Mālō e lelei, Halo, Kia orana, Fakaalofa atu, Talofa.
Continuing from this story, I asked a couple of our attendees for what their highlights were from the weekend. Lepani Makubuna and Raphael Jordan, both from Fiji, kindly gave me their thoughts and comments on our spiritual weekend…

 

What were the highlights of the weekend for you personally?

Lepani: My main highlight was the opportunity of meeting and connecting with other Christian for Israel counterparts from Tonga, Samoa, Niue and the Cook Islands. I now have a better and deeper understanding of Christians for Israel and appreciate the help with translating these strategies into goals that I want to achieve in 2018.

Raphael: There are too many highlights to mention, but meeting up with the staff from Christians for Israel NZ, Andrew Tucker and our Christians for Israel Pacific Leaders would top the list. Shmulik’s presentation regarding Aliyah was made more meaningful and powerful when he told us how he was comforting his Grandma, informing her that he witnessed Christians for Israel in Ukraine helping Jews return home. Lastly, praising God through song before sessions brought good energy to love God, Israel and the Jewish people more and more.

What insight or message did you get from the information you received?

Lepani: For me personally, it was the urgency of communicating and inspiring the churches and our nation to see Christian for Israel’s vision and mission through education. We need more Christian’s in our nation to rise up and stand in the gap between Israel and the Church through prayer and action.

Raphael: It was a personal message, so to speak – that Christians for Israel plays a vital role in the End Times, to stand in the gap between Israel & the Church. Most importantly ‘Repentance’ – to repent before God the sins of our forefathers regarding ‘Replacement Theology’ and other negative deeds committed against the Jewish people.

Has the information you received broadened your understanding of Israel? How?

Lepani: Yes, the information I received broadened my understanding immensely. The DVD teachings by Willem on Why Israel? has been a real blessing. I have watched it before, but every time I watch it, I am always grasping and learning something new. I feel very blessed to have been given the other DVD titles on Why Jerusalem?, Why End Times and Whose Land – Part 1. I look forward to regularly going through these materials in to broaden and deepen my understanding of Israel.

Raphael: Yes, I’m really blessed to have received the books and DVD’s. It’s an eye opener, very informative and educational. It has broadened my understanding taking into consideration that Israel has more than 4000 years of history. If Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand because God will eventually show up to defend the apple of His eye. Furthermore, the DVD’s and books by Willem Glashouwer for me personally, is sort of like new wine for Christians for Israel to the Church.

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