Editor's Note: See the PDF for the accompanying pictures
Northern Asia-Pacific Division
The Amagi Retreat Center near Mt. Fuji, Japan, provided a peaceful fall setting for a prayer retreat sponsored by the Ministerial Spouses Association (MSA) of the East Japan Conference in late 2018. Janet Page from the General Conference spoke to 26 attendees from throughout the conference. Also participating were Akemi Duarte, Japan Union Conference Women’s/Family Ministries director, and Lisa Clouzet, Northern Asia-Pacific Division MSA coordinator.
Sachiko Obara and her husband, Pastor Nozomu Obara, East Japan Conference president, had been praying about how to encourage the ministerial spouses in their conference. After continued prayer and planning, this retreat became a reality.
Each attendee was greeted with a devotional bag containing such items as a special book and journal to use throughout the weekend. The retreat schedule allowed time for personal prayer, small-group prayers, meals, and fellowship. Saturday night included group activities to help the spouses learn from each other and get better acquainted. Some comments from participants: “I would like to have a special time daily to praise God.” “The retreat was so nice!” “Thank you so much for Mrs. Janet Page.” “There has never been a time like this retreat.” “It was an awesome and real Sabbath, and I felt healing.” “I experienced God and got an insight that continuing prayer is very significant.” “I now recognize why God allows challenges in my church!” “It empowered me for the next 12 months!”
South Pacific Division
600 ADVENTIST WOMEN HALT TRAFFIC IN TONGA Traffic in the main street of Nukuʻalofa, Tonga’s capital, came to a halt the morning of April 18 as a parade involving
600 Seventh-day Adventist women from around the Pacific made its way to the Royal Palace.
Led by the Tongan Police Band, the parade was the focal point of the 2019 Trans-Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) Women’s Congress, which opened April 17. Wearing colorful traditional dress and waving the flags of their nations, the women carried banners and posters promoting EndIt-Now, a global Seventh-day Adventist campaign aimed at stopping violence against women. Many curious onlookers stopped to watch the procession.
In a special honor, Queen Nanasipau’u permitted the parade to enter the palace grounds through the front gate, an entry point that is normally reserved for royalty. In another gracious gesture, the queen arranged for congress guest speakers Janet Page (associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association), Dr. Danijela Schubert (South Pacific Division Women’s Ministries leader), Ann Wooldridge (Adsafe general manager), and Dr. Wendy Jackson (Avondale lecturer) to sit beside her on the palace front veranda overlooking the lawn where congress attendees gathered. A special gift-giving ceremony saw representatives from each of the countries in the TPUM present a gift from their homeland to the queen.
Queen Nanasipau’u was also a special guest at the opening ceremony, where she gave an inspiring speech based on the congress theme “Women Transformed in Jesus.”
“I’d like to begin by thanking God for bringing together so many beautiful, amazing, and inspiring women from around the Pacific to celebrate women transformed,” the
queen said. “Transformation begins with Jesus. Through His death on the cross and His mercy we are forgiven. Through the gift of His Holy Spirit we are transformed. It is Jesus who inspires us; it is Jesus who enables us. When we run out of our own meager resources and come to the end of our strength and our wisdom, there is only one Person who can carry us through. His name is Jesus.”
“During the last few years there is an English catchphrase that has become popular. It is ‘I got this,’” continued the queen, who is a Methodist. “Today I want to remind you
that God has got this. He says to us, ‘Give me your need; leave it with Me; I can handle it; trust Me; I’ve got this.’ “Why have we gathered here at this congress? We have
gathered here because God’s got this. Because of who He is, He can use women who are transformed in Jesus to heal your family, to heal your city, and even to heal your nation. . . . He wants the women He has transformed in Jesus to stand up and do their part in whatever nation and in whatever area of influence that He has given you.”
Congress organizers said it was a blessing that it didn’t rain as forecasters had predicted so the parade could take place under sunny skies.
“So far the congress is going really, really well,” TPUM president Pastor Maveni Kaufononga said as the congress progressed. “I feel that the Lord is leading, and the evidence is that the Easter weekend is in a rainy season for Tonga. . . . It is a miracle that we have beautiful weather today.” Pastor Kaufononga said the parade and the congress are providing amazing opportunities to raise awareness about the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with local media providing coverage of the activities.
“It is really good—all the newspapers are running stories on this, and just the fact that the Seventh-day Adventists are empowering women to lead out in our work—it gives a very strong message,” he said.
The congress is the official launch of the TPUM’s Year of the Woman, which is about empowering women to be leaders and evangelists.
“This is a historical event for our church. . . . This is the first time that the TPUM has dedicated a year for women to lead out,” Pastor Kaufononga said. “I believe in the power of women and what they can do.”
For a number of women, getting to the congress involved personal sacrifices and being extra resourceful. For Fijian attendee Meresiana Matavesi, it was a case of using a
coconut tree to raise funds. From the tree she produced two types of coconut oil, along with coconut broomsticks. She sold the products in her own village and in neighboring villages.
Mrs Matavesi also took her project to God, with assistance from her 4-year-old daughter, who became her prayer partner. “Every time we had a family devotion, she would pray about it [the congress]. Even meal times—sometimes she didn’t pray for the food. [Instead] she prayed, ‘God, my mother wants to go to Tonga.’ . . . I believe in my heart that God multiplied [my money]. I am so excited to be here. Nothing is impossible with God.”
Southern Asia Division
Shepherdesses from South-Central India met in Bangalore in July 2018. Celebrating the theme “Arise and Shine,” they heard from several speakers, including retired Shepherdess coordinator Hepzibah Kore.
Shepherdesses from Northern India met in Kolkata, also in July 2018. Their theme was evangelism, and 20 baptisms resulted from the program.
In August 2018, Shepherdesses met in Bidar, where they learned principles for serving as a pastor’s wife. The wives were encouraged to recommit to joining their husbands in ministry.
In Southeast India a Shepherdess workshop was held in September 2018. The women learned how to give Bible studies to individuals and groups. They also learned about
personal preparation and the do’s and don’ts of preparing and participating in the Communion service.
Northern India Union held a Shepherdess advisory in September 2018. The theme was “Mission of Hope,” with topics including “The Christian Home,” “Importance of the
Communion Service,” and “Women’s Health.” The pastors’ wives reaffirmed their support of their husbands in ministry and learned to prepare themselves to serve as well.
Also in September 2018, the pastors’ wives in the Kolar-Chinthamani Region met at the regional office. They confessed to their negligence in God’s work because no guidance had been provided to them. They promised their cooperation in ministry.
In October 2018, Northern India pastors’ wives met in Delhi for meetings. Pastors’ wives reaffirmed their role in service to family, church, and society.
Pastors’ wives from Northern India also met for the first time in Manipur. Their theme was “Faith in Action.” Western India pastors’ wives met in Pune in October 2018. The West Telangana Section conducted revival meetings for pastors and spouses in March 2019 at Machireddypally.
The featured speaker was Pastor M. Wilson, executive secretary of the Southern Asia Division. He presented hearttouching messages to approximately 700 adults and 100
children. Topics included “God of the Holy Bible,” “Your Sin and God’s Solution,” and “Human Destiny and the End of the World.” In addition, he told Bible stories and taught action songs to the kids during the daily Children’s Hour. Every day the meetings began with a health session based on the lifestyle program NEWSTART.
Pastor T. Charles, president of West Telangana Section, conducted the consecration service and dedicated all the participants to work diligently for God’s cause and to hasten the Lord’s return.
Division Shepherdess director, Mrs. Sophia Wilson, addressed the spouses on topics including “The Role of a Pastor’s Wife in God’s Ministry,” “Instructions on How to
Support a Pastoral Husband in Ministry,” and “How to Be a Godly Role Model.”