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During a trip to the South Pacific, Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson, right, met with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, left. Wilson also met with opposition leader Belden Namah and Theo Zurenoc, speaker of Parliament. [photos courtesy SPD Record]
February 18, 2014 | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea | Kent Kingston and Jarrod Stackelroth/SPD Record and ANN staff
Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson this month visited several countries in the denomination’s South Pacific Division, meeting with government leaders, participating in an evangelism series and speaking at the opening of a new campus of an Adventist College.
Along with his wife Nancy and a delegation of local church officials, Wilson visited Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Fiji—three countries that comprise approximately 75 percent of the South Pacific Division church membership.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, as well as with opposition leader Belden Namah and the speaker of PNG’s Parliament, Theo Zurenoc.
Namah, an Adventist, later said he was moved by the Bible verse from Romans 12 that Wilson quoted during their discussion, encouraging Namah and his opposition colleagues to refrain from a negative spirit in their work and to instead “overcome evil with good” as they work with the government for the good of the country.
Speaker Zurenoc explained to Wilson his recent orders that a number of traditional carvings be removed from Parliament House. He reiterated his concern that the totem pole in the Great Hall represents immorality and witchcraft and showed the Adventist delegation a concept drawing for a proposed “Unity Pillar” that he hopes will replace it.
With each leader, Pastor Wilson offered spiritual counsel and prayer, thanking the prime minister, in particular, for the religious freedom enjoyed in PNG.
Accompanying Wilson were SPD President Barry Oliver and PNG Union Mission President Leigh Rice.
Wilson was received in PNG with the same protocol offered to a visiting head of state, including security and police vehicles escorting the delegation through the streets of Port Moresby.
Prior to Pastor Wilson’s arrival, a series of evangelistic meetings at Port Moresby’s Jack Pidik Park had attracted daily crowds of more than 15,000. The main speaker, Chris Moses, secretary of the Central Papua Conference, offered the pulpit to Wilson for the final three meetings, which included the Sabbath morning service.
“It’s good to see that when our world leader comes to Papua New Guinea, he opens the word of God,” said Central Papua Conference President Pastor Kove Tau.
Wilson and the delegation also traveled to Solomon Islands, where they met with Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo. He congratulated the Seventh-day Adventist Church on its 100th anniversary since the denomination’s first missionaries landed on the nation’s shore, a government news release said.
“Mr. President, this year … marks the 100th Anniversary of the landing of Pastor Griffith Jones and his wife Marion in Solomon Islands,” the Solomon Star reported. Lilo also informed Wilson about the role of Christian churches, including the Adventist Church, in nation building, particularly in the areas of education, health, youth development and spirituality.
“I would … like to wish all its members happy celebrations. Most important of all, I pray that God will continue to lead and direct you in the next 100 years,” Lilo said.
Wilson told Lilo: “It is the first time for me to be in this part of the world and this is a historic visit for me,” the Solomon Times reported. “I will make sure I inform the Church members worldwide of your wonderful country and people.”
The Adventist leaders also travelled to Kukudu in Solomon Islands’ Western Province, the site of the establishment of the first Adventist mission.
The final leg of the trip was to Fiji, where Pastor Wilson officially opened the new campus of 109-year-old Fulton College at Sabeto, on the outskirts of Nadi. Also joining the delegation were Trans-Pacific Union Mission President Glenn Townend and Fiji Mission President Luke Narabe.
The new site—15 minutes from Nadi International Airport—caters to the nearly 60 percent of Fulton’s students who come from other countries.
“Without a well-prepared human mind, the abundance of information available can be a cacophony not a symphony,” said Fiji Education Minister Filipe Bole, speaking at the ceremony. “Your education at Fulton will prepare you to conduct the orchestra of the world’s information.”
Wilson said Fulton was forever indebted to the people of Sabeto for providing land for the facility, the Fiji Times reported.
"This has been given with a lot of love and respect and I commend the people of Sabeto," Wilson said.