12 May, 2021, 4:45 pm
Close to 200,000 Methodists in Fiji and abroad are taking turns in praying and fasting for a period of 61 days as the Church takes a spiritual approach to combat the COVID-19 epidemic.
The general secretary of the Methodist.
While church members are urged to heed all government restrictions and health procedural measures, the Methodist Church will not rest on its laurels, but use all its spiritual resources to fight against the epidemic.
The scriptural text for this program is 2 Chronicles 7:14 (If my people are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land) It is not enough just to say, “pray for it”, or “let us pray about it”.
If we really want God to heal Fiji from the COVID-19 epidemic, we have to realise that as Christians we are called by His name; it is a relationship and this is the authority on which we have to ground our faith.
After our assurance of that faith, we need to follow the conditions set out in this text where we need to humble ourselves, really pray and earnestly seek God’s countenance, while at the same time turn away from our sins through deep repentance — then God will hear our prayers and heal our land.
This is in line with the directive sent by the president, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai last week to the 59 Divisional Superintendents within the Church Fiji-wide urging all members to engage themselves in this spiritual warfare.
In his directive, Mr Vunisuwai called on all ministers and lay members to follow the example set by the people of Waya, Wayasewa and Viwa in the Yasawa Group, who prayed and fasted for two weeks during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919.
The epidemic passed over the islands without causing harm or death to the members of the three islands.
Termed as the “mother of all epidemics,” the Spanish Flu claimed the lives of more than 50 million people worldwide in just one year according to Bulletin of the History of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2002.
Social Anthropologist Phil Herder of Auckland University, claimed 8600 people died in New Zealand, 8500 died in Samoa and 8145 died in Fiji.
When the influenza hit Fiji in February 1919, the people of Waya with the instruction by the Methodist Church resident minister and the Tui Waya at the time summoned the members to take turns in praying and fasting.
In the second week of the program, certain villagers who stood at elevated areas saw something like a cloud on the horizon as it left Viti Levu.
And as it neared the three islands, the cloud passed over the island leaving the populace unscathed.
It descended on Naviti then moved to the other islands in the upper Yasawa Group before it headed towards Bua.
“The people of Waya, Wayasewa and Viwa now celebrated the Passover on February 17 every year to mark the miraculous act of God when the deadly epidemic passed over their islands.
“Now this spiritual warfare has been extended to all Methodists beginning on Saturday May 1 and will end on Wednesday June 30.
“Each divisional superintendent is assigned 24 hours for his members to engage in prayer and fasting which begins from 6am to 6am the next day.
Several hours are allocated to circuit ministers who then divide the hours among members of his local churches.
All in all, there are 59 divisions of the Methodist Church in Fiji with more than 300 circuits and 1500 local churches.
Large divisions would comprise more than 8000 members while small divisions comprise 500-1000 members.
“The spiritual program began with Ba Division on May 1, followed by Bau on the May 2, Beqa on May 3, in Biaugunu on May 4, and Bua on May 5.
It will follow this alphabetic order until the June 29 where the head office staff round it off before the Methodist church members in Canberra, Auckland and other overseas congregations join us in ending the program on June 30.
The church leadership understands the war against COVID-19 is going to be a long and a difficult one so it needs stringent measures.
Our faith must go a level up in tapping our spiritual resources and our resolve to succeed must firmly grounded on the miraculous power of the Almighty as evident in the Holy Scriptures and in the experience of fellow believers over the past 2021 years.
All church members heed the instructions of the Health Ministry and Police department in regards COVID-19 health restrictions.
Relatives of the deceased are requested to liaise with the divisional superintendents in the use of churches for funeral services. Attendance of funeral services is limited to twenty only.