|Sovereign Democratic Republic of Fiji|
Area 18,274 sq.km. Two larger and 110 smaller inhabited islands, both volcanic and coralline.
Capital Suva 200,000. Urbanites 12%.
There has been intense ethnic tension between the indigenous Fijians and immigrant Indians.
Melanesian 50.8%. Fijian 415,000, speaking six related main languages and 30 dialects.
Indian 43.7%. Mainly descendants of indentured labour imported by the British between 1879 and 1916, and also subsequent Gujarati and Sikh immigrants.
Indo-Aryan 31.5%. Hindi 211,000; Bihari 25,000; Bengali 17,000; Panjabi 7,000.
Dravidian 12.2%. Tamil 65,000; Telugu 7,000.
Polynesian 1.7%. Rotuman 10,000 on Rotuma Island. Also immigrant Samoans and Tongans.
Other 3.8%. Euro-Polynesian 9,000; Chinese 8,000; European 3,000; I-Kiribati 2,300.
Literacy 92%. Official language English; Hindustani and Bau Fijian commonly used. All languages 10. Languages with Scriptures 4Bi 1NT 1por.
Major export earnings are from tourism and sugar. The Indian community dominates nearly all commercial activities, but has no long-term security, not being permitted to own land. Many Indian professionals have emigrated since 1987 a brain-drain the country could ill afford. HDI 0.763; 61st/174. Public debt 6.2% of GNP. Income/ person $2,470 (8% of USA).
British rule 1874-1970. Post-independence calm, inter-racial balance and relative harmony were interrupted by two military coups in 1987. The aim was to prevent political power going to a democratically elected part-Indian government. Expulsion from the Commonwealth and a discriminatory constitution followed. Political isolation and economic decline stimulated a reversion to democratic rule, an ending of most racial discrimination, return to the Commonwealth and a multi-racial government in 1997. A further coup and intra-military conflict in 2000 again threatened inter-racial harmony and economic growth. The political situation remained volatile in 2001.
The 1987-1999 period was marked by emphasis on Christian traditions and strong Sunday-observance regulations.
1 Give praise that the ten years of racial discord and discrimination by Christian Fijians against mainly non-Christian Indians has ended with the unanimous approval of the 1999 Constitution. Pray on for inter-racial respect and harmony in the future.
a) The resentment of the indigenous Fijians against the importation of Indian indentured labour from 1870 onwards. The results were manifest in the high crime rate among Fijians and the 1987 coup and following discrimination against the Indians.
Pray for a spirit of repentance, healing of past wounds, a fair society, and a new freedom for the true gospel.
2 Fijians embraced Christianity over a century ago, but this was often cultural rather than spiritual. Legalism, nominalism and failure to confront the ongoing worship of ancestral spirit gods are widespread. Alcoholism and broken homes are major social evils. Fiji has a higher percentage of Methodists than any other nation but there has been a considerable exodus of Fijians from the Methodist Church to other denominations. Pray for a deep work of the Holy Spirit to deal with compromise and ethnic hatred and to bring revival.
3 Newer churches with a more strongly evangelical message are growing, but so too are Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Also within the Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches are vigorous evangelical and charismatic movements. However, there is a need for all islands to have exposure to genuine, lived-out Christianity. Pray for agencies involved in church planting and evangelism. The small boat ministry of YWAM and UBS is unique in taking evangelistic teams and Christian literature from island to island, many of which are very isolated.
4 Less reached peoples. The Indians of Fiji form the largest non-Christian community in the Pacific. Only 6% of them claim to be Christian. Indian majority churches are often weakened by a spirit of receiving rather than giving, a lack of stable leadership, and emigration of their most gifted leaders. Pray specifically for:
a) The Hindus, who have been patchily evangelized. Yet during the past four decades there has been a steady trickle of converts to Christianity. The Methodists, AoG, Baptists and Pentecostals all have numbers of Indian Christians. WEC and Pioneers have church-planting ministries committed to ministry among them.
c) The 59,000 Muslim community is tightly knit and very resistant to the gospel. Little is being done to reach them, and the few converted to Christ have suffered considerable persecution. There are several Fijian villages that have become Muslim.
d) The Chinese mostly Cantonese in origin. There has been more recent immigration from mainland China and Hong Kong. Many speak English. There had been no ministry specifically directed to reach them until 1992 (WEC).
a) Leadership training for the churches. Significant institutions are the Methodist Theological College, the AoG Bible School (100 students), Ambassadors for Christ Bible School (11 students), the Baptist Christian Leadership College in Nasinu, the Catholic Pacific Regional Seminary. The EHC Bible and Missionary Training School and the South Pacific Missionary Training Centre were set up specifically to train workers for cross-cultural work.
b) Ministry to young people. Fiji has serious sociological problems amongst their youth, yet there is a responsiveness that needs to be met. Pray for those specifically ministering to young people in Fiji and the Pacific CEF (4 workers amongst children), YFC, SU, and YWAM amongst youth, and also Pacific Students for Christ (IFES) and CCCI among students. The University of the Pacific in Fiji has students from every island territory and is strategic for impacting many islands where there is much nominal Christianity.
c) Evangelical networks. There are two umbrella organizations for Evangelicals the Evangelical Alliance and the Evangelical Fellowship of Fiji. The latter relates to the Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific, founded in 1989, which has become a catalyst for cooperation in youth work, women's networks and missions. Pray for a deep unity among believers that transcends denomination, distance and ethnicity.
d) Mission vision Over 300 Fijians have served as long-term missionaries over the last 130 years. The initial enthusiasm waned but is now being revived. YWAM, WEC, Pioneers and CMF have been prominent in channelling Fijians to mission fields around the world. The EFSP has launched the Deep Sea Canoe Mission as a cooperative effort to foster missions vision, identify and train workers. Pray for existing and greater future Fijian missionary investment.
a) The Bible Society of the South Pacific based in Fiji. Pray for their endeavours in undertaking surveys of translation needs (much needed in Fiji's dialects now), translation work, printing and distribution of God's Word throughout the Pacific. Translation and revision work in Fijian and Fiji Hindi are important projects. There is also a lack of good Christian literature in these two languages.
b) EHC has been so successful in Fiji that after 3 nation-wide distributions, 6% of the population responded, over 2,000 Christ groups started, and a denomination formed with a strong missions vision.
d) Specialized agencies include: WVI, committed to wholistic development, Christian Women Communication International with their KYB programmes, Bible distribution of Gideons International, the prisoner rehabilitation ministry of Prison Fellowship and the Nurses Christian Fellowship. All need prayer.
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