CWM delegation visits Honiara churches in Solomon Islands

by Cheon Young Cheol

In conjunction with a Council for World Mission (CWM) Board of Directors meeting, a CWM delegation visited four local churches that are part of the Honiara Circuit in the Solomon Islands—Kukum United Church, Naha United Church, Lugavatu United Church, and Wesley United Church—on 25 February. There, they joined in worship services with the local congregations, forging new friendships and renewing existing ties.

The Wesley United Church’s service was a unique experience for the attending CWM staff members as the sermon was also broadcast over the national radio network, an effective avenue for God’s word to reach the local populace who may live in remote or inaccessible locations.

The Wesley United Church is part of the United Church in the Solomon Islands, a governing body that originated as the other half of the former United Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The United Church in the Solomon Islands became autonomous in 1996.

Letting down the net on the right side

 CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum preached to a packed sanctuary on readings from Leviticus 25:8-10 and John 21:5-13.

Expressing solidarity with the local population whose livelihoods are still very much based on agrarian practices and fishing, Keum centred his message on the story of Peter, a disciple of Christ who was also a skilled fisherman.

John 21 details the poignant story of Peter and the disciples who went on a failed fishing trip after the Jesus’ death, but came away with a full catch after heeding the instructions of the risen Christ who stood by the shore.

Using the story as a springboard, Keum challenged the congregation to think about what they might be missing when things go wrong in their lives, especially in areas over which they thought they had control.

“While we are equipped with many things to be successful in our ministries, are we truly experiencing the guidance of God in our lives?” asked Keum.

He drew attention to God’s commission to make disciples and to “fish for men” and the fact that, even though the disciples in the story were trained fishermen since birth, they still willingly let down their nets on the instruction of Christ.

Willingness and obedience were the keys to the success that the fishermen ultimately enjoyed.

This obedience can be further magnified as the church embarks on its mission to live out God’s vision of the new world, and to fulfill its role as a herald of the year of Jubilee that was also referred to as the year of the Lord’s favour when salvation and deliverance were given to all and when debts were written off.

“The church is to be a foretaste of the Kingdom of God,” said Keum, who exhorted the church to be the bearer of the good news, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to set free the oppressed.

Mission, according to Keum, is a divine command that comes straight from God.

As the earlier story of Peter’s failed evening of fishing turned into a morning that restored his relationship with God, so it must be with the church as it regains and holds fast to its calling to feed the Lord’s sheep—a promise that Peter reiterated thrice as Jesus reaffirmed his commitment to and love of Him on the shores of Galilee.

“Just before Jesus fed the multitudes, the disciples were asking how they could feed the throng. Jesus replied simply with ‘you give them something to eat,’ signifying that mission is the job of the church,” recounted Keum, “when the disciples replied that they only had five loaves and two fishes, he performed the famous miracle that fed the thousands.

“Jesus can and will always multiply our lives and gifts, no matter how small they may be, in service of Him,” added Keum. “The question is: are we willing to love His sheep like Peter did?”

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