The Summer of Sending and Receiving
By: Wes, Jerusha, Mercy & Josiah Neal
Lunch on July 4 this year was memorable. The meal, prepared by some of the women on campus to raise funds for graduation, was a Fijian take on hot dogs and burgers on the grill. We had chicken and taro from the lovo (earth oven) with kokoda (raw fish and chilies in coconut milk) and Passion fruit ice cream for desert. But it wasn’t the food (as good as it was) that I will remember, it was the people…
A First Mission Team
At that meal, the 22 members of the mission team from Foothills UMC in La Mesa, California were with us. Some had spent the morning installing lights in the boys dormitory, others in hosting a free medical clinic for the community, and still others preparing for Day 4 of the Everest Celebration Bible School that they were hosting for 60 kids and youth in the community.
A First Global Mission Fellow from Fiji
At that meal, we introduced a young man named Jovilisi Kawea Murivalu. Jovilisi had just received his visa to travel to Atlanta to train through the Generation Transformation Program of the United Methodist Church. After working with Wes through a 9-month application process, Murivalu was preparing to go for two years to serve as a Global Mission Fellow in Barbados.
And as if all this wasn’t excitement enough, Jerusha and I were wearing the kalavata (matching fabric) clothing that another mission partner, a Fijian church leader living in the States, had given us for the holiday. On that sunny Monday on our campus the guiding principle of Global Ministries, “from everywhere to everywhere” was being lived out.
I believe that sending people into mission (instead of just money or sponsoring training) is important because of the way that God multiplies the gifts missionaries bring for the life of the Church. The mission team may have thought that they came to do repairs, and teach kids, and meet with sick patients, but by the end of their time here, they knew that something much more precious had happened. Lives had touched lives and agape love multiplied among us. Likewise, our presence here has enabled a first young man from Fiji (more will apply this year) to go and serve in Barbados for two years. He will bring much more than his skills and sharp mind to bear. He will also witness to the agape love of God multiplied and others will be inspired to follow his example.
A Summer of Sending and Receiving
This has been the kind of summer we have had in Fiji. At the start of the summer Wes trained 70 students and faculty who went out from campus to do Trauma Healing work in villages devastated by Cyclone Winston. Last week Jerusha and a neighbor of ours resourced 30 women to use the Bible’s testimony on our being created in the “image of God” to combat domestic violence. For the last two years, much of our work has seemed like seed planting, but this summer we started to see the fruit that our labor was bearing.
The Part You Play
You all are part of this as well, of course. The missionary spirit doesn’t just exist among those who go to live in a different country, or those who come on a work team. It also exists in every one of you who prays for us regularly, in every one who contributes to the support that makes it possible for our church to send more missionaries like us, and in every church which covenants with us for ongoing support. The fruit we bear is the fruit you bear as well.
To support our work online: go to www.umcmission.org/jneal andwww.umcmission.org/wneal - or give to our Advance numbers through your local congregation: (Jerusha #3021963, Wes #3021964).