Thirty-five representatives from member-churches of Council for World Mission’s (CWM) Pacific Region attended the second NIFEA Pacific colloquium held from 19 to 22nd March, 2018 at Novotel Hotel in Nadi, Fiji.

The colloquium started with an inaugural Worship led by the team from Kiribati Uniting Church on the first day. Consultant Dr Rogate Mshana discussed in detail Sustainable Development goals and the role of the church. The day’s Bible study program was based on Poverty Eradication: Addressing Structural & Systemic Causes.

There, Dr Cliff Bird quoted Father Kevin Barr (2005) on the Pacific Context when a field researcher asked a grandmother about Poverty in the interior of Viti Levu, Fiji in 2000:

“You ask me what poverty is. It is here, staring you right in the eye. Look at me! I stay alone. I do not have enough food. I have no decent clothing and accommodation. I have no clean water to drink. Look at my swollen legs. I can’t get to the dispensary, which is too far for me to walk. I have to walk a mile to catch a bus. I cannot see well with my eyes. I can no longer do any farming. So don’t ask me to tell you what poverty is. Just look and see for yourself.”1

Participants discussed in groups the common or traditional interpretation of the bible passage Mark 12:41–44 in their church, and also presented on their implementation reports after NIFEA 1 in their different churches and challenges faced.

Economist and finance experts Mr Nicolas Karambadzakis and Dr Marie Aimee Tourres discussed Social financial schemes (ECLOF) and Ethical investments in terms of NIFEA on the second day.  The presentations attracted much interest and discussion and appeared to be potential areas for churches to explore further. The bible study was conducted by Dr Cliff Bird on ethical investment focusing on Capital to Community based on the text Luke 16:1-8.

The participants went for an exposure program after lunch to a village named Koroipita Model Town in Lautoka and also FRIEND (Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise & Development) in Ba. Cultural night was held after dinner for participants to display something related to their home country.

On the last day, Dr Agnas Aboum spoke in detail about Advocacy, covering amongst other things methods and approaches to advocacy. The Bible study conducted by Dr Cliff Bird was based on Advocacy – Colours of God’s kingdom, with the emphasis on Mathew 13:1- 46. Participants broke into groups to converse and share their understanding of the parables of the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure, the fine pearls and the fish net, as well as report on their action plan for their churches towards the third NIFEA colloquium to be held next year. A consolidated action plan was also drawn up and presented.

The Programme concluded with a collective action plan by the CWM NIFEA 2 Pacific colloquium on Economy of Life to set the stage for an exciting implementation schedule in working towards the third colloquium in March 2019. It states: “We encourage member churches to focus on poverty eradication, ecological injustice, ethical investments and advocacy. We further encourage member churches to take initiatives and activate their plans and to relate to the bible study lessons for guidance and inspirations”.

1: Chantelle A Khan and Kevin Barr. Christianity, Poverty and Wealth at the Start of the 21st Century: Fiji Country Case Study. Suva: ECREA, 2003, p5