It’s here, in this church, that some measure of salvation for Tuvalu might perhaps be found. Not so much in the whisking away of souls to heaven, but in the fact that good theology genuinely makes a difference to the issues people are facing, here and now. It’d be easy for an outsider to dismiss this as old fashioned, oppressive religious clap trap. It’s not.
“The things that matter to our people – I mean, really matter – are being able to survive on the land, being able to live as family in a happy, healthy way,” says Sulu. “And right now in both those areas we are facing serious challenges. The fact that we are being offered resources to help us respond to the changing climate and to relationships between men and women, from the Bible we love and treasure – this means more to our people than any other form of support or teaching. It comes from the place of our values, not from outside. And it’s transforming.”
This is what’s unique about the development approach offered by UnitingWorld in partnership with Pacific churches. It speaks to the most pressing, real world issues of Pacific people from their most influential, life-giving resource – the Bible. Through workshops developed in consultation with theologians and ordinary people from the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, it’s laying bare what Jesus taught about relationships between men and women; what wisdom can be found about caring for the land and how to develop resilience in suffering and disaster.
“The Scriptures are a resource for our health, by which I mean all kinds of health – mental, physical, economic health,” Sulu says. “I know the Bible workshops have made a big difference in other places in the Pacific. I want to see them happening here because I know there are so many issues we could improve in Tuvalu.”