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Op-Ed: Multiple church meetings in Apia and “illnesses” of modern Samoa

reprinted with permission

The Samoa Observer Group of Newspapers welcomes the hundreds of visitors gathering in Apia this week for a number of church conferences being held in Samoa.

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to:

• Members of the Methodist Church

• Members of the Catholic Church

• Members of the World Assemblies of God Church

• Members of the Worship Centre Church

Whereas the Methodist and the Worship Centre are holding their annual conferences, the Catholic Church is celebrating its National Youth Week where some 4,000 young people are taking part.

The World Assemblies of God Conference on the other hand – which is held every two years - begins next week but participants have already started to arrive. So in Samoa this week, there are hundreds of people from the United States of America, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, American Samoa and other countries.

Having travelled far to attend these different conferences, we welcome and congratulate them all for their perseverance and commitment to the work of God on earth. We say this because a trip to Samoa for whoever is here to attend these conferences is not cheap.

It takes commitment and money to make it happen. And that means months – if not years – of hard work. And let’s not forget that the cost of a visit to Samoa is not just about airfares, accommodation and pocket money. For many of them, it’s about coming back to families and villages, which can be quite expensive. Still, conferences such as the multiple church meetings being held this week present a wonderful opportunity for our people to reunite and reacquaint themselves with relatives, loved ones and long lost friends. For many people, that is the best part about these meetings.

It’s about returning to Samoa and catching up with what’s been happening at home. As for the fact that all these church conferences are happening at the same time in this country, it shows that Samoa is the pinnacle of religious freedom in this part of the world. In other words, these events of religious significance are fitting testimonies to the belief that freedom of thought and conscience is alive and well in this country.

And that’s something to be proud of. In some countries near and far, such meetings are forbidden. If you’re a Methodist, you don’t need to look further than our Pacific neighbours in Fiji where the Methodist Church is still banned from holding their annual conference. As the biggest denomination in Fiji, the Methodist church has suffered severely under the iron fist of dictator, Frank Bainimarama. Followers know what persecution is like since they’ve been hounded by the Military who are obviously paranoid about the activities of the church.

In Samoa, the Methodist Church is free to do whatever it likes.

As a country “founded on God,” the Methodist has taken root in this country since the arrival of John Wesley and has grown to become a respected pillar of the community. So have the Catholic Church, Assemblies of God Church and perhaps the fastest growing charismatic church, The Worship Centre.

But the multiple church meetings happening in Apia are held at a challenging time. In Samoa today, our country has been invaded by “many illnesses” of modern society.

In your newspaper on Sunday 08 July 2012, the Chairman of the National Council of Churches (NCC), Reverend Kasiano Le’aupepe calls on the church to be more proactive.

Referring to cases of sexual abuse, prostitution, pornography, violence, robberies, thefts and other social problems, Rev Le’aupepe says the church has a responsibility to address these issues. “That responsibility is to tell our people what the Bible says we should do [about these things],” he says.

Indeed, the church – as one of the pillars of Samoan society – must be held accountable. While the church is accountable to God since it is HIS church, the leaders must feel a sense of responsibility to assist the Government and villages to tackle the number of growing ills in our community.

The truth is simple. Samoa is a church-going country. If crimes are increasing, it obviously means the church is not as effective as it should be. In other words, churchgoers are not listening to the teachings since we know God hates crime and sin.

There is something wrong somewhere and that’s the challenge for all the churches. They must find where the holes are appearing and fix them quickly to help stem the bleeding. Come to think of it, finding the answers shouldn’t be too difficult. We serve an all knowing God who has all the answers.

It goes without saying therefore that what the church should do is humble itself before God, hook up through prayer and fasting and ask him to show us where we might have missed it.

That’s something all the church meetings happening in Samoa this week should do.

What do you think?



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