“Father kept the Sabbath and I do likewise, so that that day we will devote our time to read the Word of God, which to me is very important. And the president of the parliament promotes Sabbath-keeping. We even spent several months studying the Bible on Saturdays in the Parliament and we invited many people over”, shared Erity Teave, Honoui and Rapa Nui’s Council of Chiefs president in Easter Island, one of the most far-off locations in the world. Erity is the daughter of Juan Teave, first native of the island baptized in 2006 by the Seventh-day Adventist pastor Eleodoro Castillo.
Providentially, Erity met José Luis Cabrera, a pastor of the island, after a mishap while preparing to film with Elder Ted Wilson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A man prevented the recording that day because he demanded a permit of the Parliament to record in the zone.
Cabrera explained they had the permit and the signature of the mayor, however, the stranger was not satisfied with those signatures and demanded that of the president of the Parliament, which meant the loss of a day of work for the multimedia team. However, God had a plan. The local Adventist leader went back to the Parliament, did not find the president but found Erity, who was surprised with what the pastor told her. Without hesitation, she agreed to sign the authorization.
The president of Honoui showed much interest in knowing about the work of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and requested 100 missionary books “Health & Wellness” in Rapa Nui and Spanish language to give to all members of Parliament and employees of the city hall. Also, she accepted the invitation of Elder Cabrera to attend the meetings on health and food that the Adventist Church was offering on the island.
Gratitude for the Church's Mission
During the meeting, Erity received the missionary books and told how her father accepted God and the Sabbath message in his heart, and expressed her desire to follow his steps asking to be baptized. Thus, on May 7 Erity was baptized in the local Tahai Beach Adventist Church. Seeing this testimony of faith and love, Leviante Araki Tepano, president of the Parliament, agreed to study the Bible and mentioned he was also keeping the Sabbath.
“In my capacity as President of Honoui, of the Council of Rapa Nui Chiefs of Clans, I want to express my gratitude to the Adventist Church for being in Rapa Nui and I want to ask it to have a part in the Rapa Nui society, because there are many needs. This is the most far-off island in the world and there is a very urgent spiritual need. There are many social problems, like alcoholism, drug abuse, broken families, and because of these there are lack of jobs, resentment and health problems,” said Erity. “We will be very grateful for any help the church may provide, and especially for the book ‘Health & Wellness.’… I am asking for sermons for television and other media, to reach more people. Thank you very much. If there is any work to be done in that day [the Sabbath] is just caring for the ill, we promote other types of work not to be done because God blessed and sanctified the Sabbath”, she concluded.
History of the Church On the Island
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church arrived in Rapa Nui in 1978 through Eugenia Villarroel, an Adventist who moved to the island from the city of Santiago de Chile.
She met a policeman named Sergio Zelada that did not profess the Adventist faith, but he was responsible for bringing “The Voice of Hope” tapes to the radio in the island. This material was provided by Adventist Juan Álvarez, a church member that was on the continent.
Later on, Sergio was transferred to Chile. He then gave Eugenia the responsibility of keeping the radio program on the air. Years later, Sergio was baptized as a result of the message of hope of the program.
The work continued in the island with the help of Elder Castillo, who was the first Adventist pastor to perform a baptism with the Catechumens: Cecilia, Jonathan and Rosa —islander natives of continental Chile.
Gabriel Montoya, who worked for the South American Printing House of Chile (ACES), and his wife, Luz, who was a Bible instructor, also moved to the island. The couple worked for the church in the island for six months with the goal of making small groups.