An Update From Fiji
By: Wes & Jerusha Neal
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Strange as it may seem to those of you living in the Northern hemisphere, graduation is upon us here at Davuilevu Theological College. The feasting begins this Tuesday and continues for two weeks, only broken by the necessities of writing final exams and preparing our campus for an influx of proud families. It is a time of transition for 21 of our students, who will be assigned to churches and schools on various islands in Fiji in early January. As we walked home from chapel last Sunday night, the hymns of God’s people still ringing in our ears, our hearts were full of gratitude.
It is a different transition, however, that we are writing to share with you. Next summer, at the end of our first full term, our family will be moving back to the United States. In late October, Jerusha was offered a position as Assistant Professor of Homiletics (Preaching) at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. It was not a position she was seeking – we had been planning on staying for a second term here in Fiji – but at the urging of one of her PhD advisors she applied, was interviewed, and was offered the position. While we do not fully understand the “why” or the “how” yet, we are prayerfully convinced that this is a door that God intends for us to walk through.
We say this knowing that the work we have begun in Fiji is not yet complete. We have had a productive three years of planting, but know that the one who plants is not necessarily the one who waters (I Cor 3:6). We are grateful for the remarkable people we have come to know in Fiji, people who were about this work long before we arrived and will continue it forward. And of course, we trust in the hands of God, whose love stretches beyond the horizons we see. We are praying that there is someone new that God has been calling and preparing to work alongside the Fijian church.
Your support through these last years of transition and learning has been a gift greater than we can properly appreciate. Thank you to our supporting churches and individual donors. Thank you to those of you who participated in our ministry through Cyclone relief book drives, and mission teams, and notes of support. Thank you above all to those of you who prayed for us daily and who held the lives of our adopted Fijian family, and of our children, close to your hearts. We have felt sustained and fed by your compassion and love in our time here. We will still be in Fiji for another 7 months, so our work continues.
But we will close today with an urging to not be weary in doing what is right (II Thess. 3:13). Keep praying for Fiji, especially as climate change and women’s equality become increasing concerns on the global agenda.
Join us in praying specifically that, just as God opened the door unexpectedly for us to move, so God would open the door for another missionary to move into Mission House and continue the work that is left undone.
And as you pray, remember to continue to support the ongoing work of missionaries in Fiji and around the world through your donation to Global Ministries this coming November 29, UMC Giving Tuesday. Donate online to Advance #3021963 (Jerusha) or #3021964 (Wes) at www.umcgivingtuesday.org to continue to build support for the work that God has begun in Fiji.
May the Peace of this coming season be with us all. Last night, we stood under what scientists say was the brightest moon since 1948 – marveling on its silver light on the coconut trees. Many of you, we know, marveled over that same moon while standing in the United States. It reminded us that God’s light is shining everywhere, in the day and in the night – on both sides of the Pacific. Whatever transition we face, we do not fear.
We are proud to be your missionaries.
Wes and Jerusha Neal