TSCF’s team ready to depart, from left: Kate, Becky, Riven, Chris, Michael, Christina, Annelise and Caesar in front.

Bula vinaka! When exams finished last year, we set off on a different kind of adventure with six students and grads, two staff and a bunch of wonderful Fijian hosts.

TSCF has a long, close relationship with Pacific Students For Christ, our sister movement in Fiji. However this two-week cultural trip to Suva was our first specifically partnering with PSFC. The purpose was to experience Fijian student life as we learned more about God and crossed cultures together.

During the first week we were billeted with Fijian students, fully immersed in their family life and culture. The second week we joined together, both Kiwis and Fijians, to visit the local prison, orphanage, women’s refuge and other ministries.

Rebecca, Christina and Caesar explain why they went and share what surprised or challenged them, where they saw God at work, and how the trip changed them.

 

Rebecca Tuckey is a fifth year medical student living in Christchurch. She spent her first three years in Dunedin and was a part of CMF there.

I joined the trip to take me outside of my “bubble,” and I knew I would learn a lot. I’ve also been wanting to go on a missions trip for many years; it was one of the reasons I decided to study medicine. I loved that it was a trip with a purpose.

I love Fiji too. I’ve been there before and wanted to learn more about the culture.

I was surprised by the amazing hospitality and generosity shown to me by the people I met. They were so humble and selfless.

I was challenged by the need to reshuffle priorities and the time I devote to things. My time needs to reflect how I view success. Success, to me, is becoming more like Christ and loving his children.

Another challenge is giving all control over my life to God. I had no control over most of what I did, what I ate and when everything happened in Fiji.

I saw God at work in conversations I had with people—I felt honoured by their honesty and how they shared their testimonies with me—and in the reflections and discussions within the team. Another way I saw God at work was how he matched each of the team with a great host family.

Personally, I was confronted by my own sinfulness. I loved seeing the generosity and kindness of the Fijian people and want to leave people feeling as loved as I did when I was with them.

I have been working on being wise with how I spend my time, and trusting God as he is never changing and completely worthy.

Christina Wilson is a student leader at Massey Albany in Auckland.

I’m studying Social Anthropology, learning about different cultures, so what better way to travel overseas than to go with a team of Christian students and staff workers on a cultural trip?

I’ve also struggled with anxiety, mainly a fear of being trapped, and I avoided aeroplanes like the plague. This was the first step in trusting God and beginning to overcome my fears.

My greatest fear is not pursuing a life of service to God because I’m too scared to travel to the people and places he called me to serve. Signing up was saying, “Not through my strength but yours alone, Lord.”

The disparity of wealth was the most shocking thing about Fiji. Some homes in the villages were shacks and close by are houses like those in New Zealand.

I thought the most challenging part would be the aeroplane but I was wrong. I struggled to feel grateful during my time with my original host in the village. I was challenged by a lack of gratitude while my host was always so thankful to God for everything she had. After choosing to leave the village and return to Suva, I felt as though I had failed and had disappointed all those I met there by not coping with life in the village.

The hardest part was not getting to say goodbye to Asinada, a girl I had connected with during our time in prayer at the church. Her complete devotion to God impacted me, and it pains me that I didn’t explain why I was leaving and thank her. She would walk barefoot in the pouring rain, crossing a bridge that was deemed unsafe for us to cross, to pray for two hours for the local church community, the village and church leaders, both at night and in the morning. That was a devotion like I had never seen before.

I learned a lot about areas I need to work on in becoming more like Christ—who God has called me to be as his daughter and the characteristics and qualities I need to grow as a woman of God.

It was a privilege to see the way God was working through the lives of others. The sisters at St Christopher’s Home are devoting their lives in service to the most vulnerable and precious children. We heard of the sacrifices two of the women had made choosing to follow Jesus and saw them so filled with joy, love and trust that God would provide.

God was also at work through prayer. There were entire churches praying for our trip and the flights we took to get there, and all was well! Praying over sickness, sunburn, fears, struggles with pride, for courage, guidance, safety, for people to come to know God, to seek his presence at work each day—that was how God moved.

When we went to Fiji, I couldn’t sleep or get my heart rate under control from the morning before I flew to Christchurch. But during the flight home I barely noticed it taking off. I was too consumed thanking God for every way he had moved. For the first time in years I felt as though I could serve God wherever he leads me and not fear the journey.

The trip made me realise how important actively pursuing God is, to be devoted in prayer and reading scripture daily. So many friends have fallen away from faith. It has also challenged me to rethink the purpose of my degree, how I can align it with my faith and use it to serve God. I noticed how I took all I have for granted. I encountered so much joy and love in the people we met and that became my prayer in returning to New Zealand: That my flat may be a place where kindness, grace, joy and servant-heartedness reside.

Caesar and Michael at a children’s ministry in Fiji.

Xia Tian, also known as Caesar, studies agribusiness and food marketing at Lincoln University. 

I believed this trip could help me observe this world in a different angle and learn about God’s plan in a different culture. Before this trip, I attended a course called Kairos. It opened my eyes to the need to devote myself to giving the gospel to more people. I reckoned this trip could bring me from the course to the real world.

I was surprised by the transformation in this country. We visited the Fiji National Museum and learned Fiji had their local religion which was like the dark magic belief. Since the first missionary came to Fiji, Christianity spread to everywhere. Fijians have a great passion for worshipping God and a great love for sharing the gospel.

Some experiences left a deep impression on me. In the Sunday service in the World Harvest Centre Church in Suva more than 2,000 people attended. Their passion shocked me.

The second thing was a big billboard beside the motorway that said, “Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.” I never saw this kind of advertisement in my country or in New Zealand.

On this trip I was challenged by my old self. I always want to stay in my comfort zone. I am afraid to go into the deep water and trust God. In the trip, many times I wanted to rely on my strength but neglected to pray and rely on God’s strength.

I saw God at work in the Homes of Hope, a shelter for the victims of forced sex in Fiji. People come to help them with great love from God. They protect them and give them hope to start a new life.

This trip reminded me to put my faith in God and trust in him. I am trying to get out of my comfort zone and rely on God in my daily life. For example, I am usually afraid to discuss my faith with my parents when we video chat because they are not Christians yet. I started to share some stories from church and read the Bible to them and encourage them to find a church in their city. And I also keep praying for them. Those things I would have struggled to do before.

I thank God for giving me more strength to trust him.

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