The struggles to plant Christianity on our shores
“He decided to go to Queensland so that he could purchase a rifle or gun to shoot someone whose blood will pay the tragic curse put upon him by his elder brother.
Like many other churches arriving in the Solomon Islands to plant the Gospel in the heathen areas of the country, many South Seas Evangelical Church missionaries have been killed.
Their bloods have been shed for the sake of planting the Gospel seed in our lands.
For the Catholics, Bishop Epalle was killed in Estrella Bay in Isabel, for the Anglican Church of Melanesia, it was Bishop Patterson who was killed in Niukapu in Temotu, and for South Seas Evangelical Church SSEC, Thomas Sandwich and a Malaitan, Andrew Kanairara were both killed in Rennell Island.
Interestingly, Mr Kanairara of North Malaita was a relative of the brave one man Missionary, Mr Peter Ambuofa who together with Miss Florence Young first introduced the Gospel in Malaita Province in 1894.
He voluntarily dedicated his life to set foot ashore on the coasts of North East Malaita to plant the Gospel tree.
In his entire endeavour to fulfil his call, Devine providence has stood by him and finally conquered the region, one of the most hostile regions in Malaita despite all his trials and temptation.
Here was a brief account of the SSEC Church retrieved from, http://wikieducator.org/User:Accounts_of_Peter_Ambuofa on how Ambuofa came home from Queensland to help Miss Young with the church.
“Ambuofa or Kwanairara” of the Manafiu Tribe lived with his parents in a local heathen Hamlet called “Gwa’atolo” in the Northern Mountainous tip of Malaita. His father’s name was “FOAKWAILIU or NUKUA” a great warrior and chief of their tribe during those days. Besides, Ambuofa, he had six (6) other brothers and one (1) sister and that brings their team to a total of eight members altogether in their household.
Around 1890’s, during the blackbirding days, Ambuofa decided to leave at once to Queensland for a reason that he wants to purchase a gun to kill his own brother whom he was having issues with. So he did went and work as a slave to work on plantation as labour.
During such times, Miss Florence Young was also there, she often pays visits to where these men used to live.
Miss Florence Young, was the sister of Arthur, Horace and Ernest Young, the owners of the Fairy mead plantation on which the mission was located, was largely responsible for the establishment of the mission, and served as secretary of the organization
As she paid regular visits into their place of work and camps, she could witness their hostility and notoriety to each other.
She was deeply moved with her heart that if only these men would accept Jesus as their personal saviour and their lives.
Eventually she came up with the idea of establishing a programme known as the ‘evening class’ daily at eves for the slaves with the purpose that better should they be given education opportunities to ensure their competence in terms of communication as they are working in a place and among a people whose Language is English.
Secondly, that also it would be a chance to reach men for the Lord as really the majority of the labour force is but heathen men.
To most of the Labourers especially those from Malaita got reluctant to be enrolled into the programme initiated on a basis that it is against their culture and religious beliefs that women should not usurp leadership and authority over them.
However for that sole reason, they resolved not to be party to the evening class programme.
Among the Labour force, there were few members who dared to ignore their cultures and admitted to the classes.
Having proved the best results, they shared to Ambuofa the impacts they had attained as a result.
With their good explanatory statement however, Ambuofa was then convinced and became a regular attendant. He continued and become very interested in his new discovery of certain values within the evening class programme.
He was delighted that he attains such a confidence by which he can communicate better to people within his calibre in whose land he is but a migrant; That he discovered a totally new Christian life that changes his personality and corrupt religion which for many years he was a victim and servant.
As a result of his emerging new discoveries, his purposes had eventually weakened and slowly changes.
The reason for purchasing a rifle to get revenge and so accomplish his purpose for distant migration had badly failed.
And instead of purchasing a rifle to shoot his brother, he was given the Gospel rifle with a bullet John 3: 16 to return back and shoot with on the Islands and to his people, particularly his own bother and family; a rifle type which he would shoot at a dead man physically and he becomes a living soul.
This has taken place in Kalkie, Bunderberg, Queensland in 1892.
With the assistance of devoted missionaries during that time, Bishop Hopkins, Ambuofa was immersed in the Burnett River with the name “Peter”(the rock) to indicate his new seal to follow and serve as a Christian.
After his act of immersion, Peter Ambuofa had experience no peace of heart to delay any longer in Queensland. In a sense that the concern he has for his dying people emerges.
Not until Peter Ambuofa finally finds a suitable transport, he travel back to his homeland, the ship left Australia to Solomon Islands sometimes in April 1894.
In his first trip to the islands, the boat he was travelling it was turned back to Australia as a result of the Hostility faced on Malaita.
Upon his arrival in his second trip back to the Solomon’s, Fula’au and Kamuda escorted Peter Ambuofa to Malu’u and eventually treads Malu’u shore on the Spot known as “Aethawanekao” on the 14thof July 1894.
When he arrived in Malu’u, Miss Young has already arrived in Malu’u in 1886 with a mission known as the Queensland Kanak Mission.
He did continued with her, but his own people do not agree and threatened and attempted to have him killed many but did fail.
In 1907, the name Queensland Kanak Mission Changed to South Seas Evangelical mission SSEM where its head quarter was established in One Pusu, West Areare, two years before (i.e. 1905)
The mission expanded to Makira in 1907, Talise (Guadalcanal in 1909, Renbel in 1910. After the two missionaries to set foot on the Island were killed, Thomas Sandwich and Andrew Kanairara, it was re-opened in 1934.
Fredrick Daniel was killed in 8th June 1911 at Ailamlama by Kwaiga and Lawkelea.
Peter Ambuofa died in 1936, and Miss Florence Young died in 1940.
In 1964 Australian Evangelist George who bring in the Church in Ambu community in near Auki, Malaita. His messages impacted upon the Malaitan cultural bride price and marketing of girls.
The South Seas Evangelical Church was established in 1964 under its current name, and became independent from the mission in 1975.
Not until this year since 1964, the SSEC Church has expanded to become the third largest church in the Solomon Islands. It was the self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating church in the country.
On 8th March 2014, the SSEC Church has celebrated its, 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary in Ambu Community, Malaita since establishing as SSEC in 1964.
Addressing a crowd of nearly 6,000 from across the Solomon Islands SSEC members, Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga commended the faithful and martyred missionaries who have planted the seed of the Gospel in the Solomon Islands.
They were given a moment of silence in respect of their deadly missions which flourish today.
“Today marks the success of their efforts and hard work they have made over those initial years, ensuring you and I have the privilege of enjoying life in Christ.
“Our gathering today is none other, but to celebrate and acknowledge the bold and brave decision our passed church leaders have made through their faith in Christ.
“We, todays generations should be proud of them, that we are the beneficiaries of the faith our leaders had when they accept the responsibility to take over the difficult task of ensuring the church grows to impact the lives of all of us today.
He urged all leaders of today to maintain and keep that spiritual flame burning.
“The challenge for us leaders of today is how can we keep this spiritual flame bur4ning and are we prepare to pass it to the next generation”? “We are the beneficiaries of the faith our leaders had when they first accepted the responsibility to take over the difficult task of ensuring the church to grows and have impact on our lives”.
Malaita Premier honourable Edwin Suibaea in his remark to mark the event said, “It was a dangerous time and typical of Gods work, the blood of Family members, and friends were sacrificed for the sake of the gospel. The graves of Fredrick Daniels in Malu’u, Constance Young at Fo’ondo, and the killing of Thomas Sandwich and Andrew Kanairara in Rennel Island were the living testimonies that declare to us the testimonies that the indigenous church we are celebrating its Golden Jubilee was found on the blood and the martyrdom of these brave hearts and faith on God alone”.
Aoke/Langalanga Member of Parliament Honourable Mathew Wale has left the challenge for the church and had warned against Heresy and cult movements.
“As we celebrate this Golden Jubilee, let us reflect on the aspiration of our fathers: I believe that these were to see an indigenous church that is self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating”.
“Let us ask ourselves whether we live up to these lofty ideas of our forefathers. This is an important point in the history of the church, to do some soul searching and to ask wheatear these aspirations still relevant in today’s Solomon Islands Context. What are the aspiration of SSEC today and the future?”
“The SSEC has come through some tests, in recent times. These heresies of Israelism and cargo-cultism of the kingdom movement are such tests”.
“These tests have distracted the church from keeping its focus on the crucified, resurrected and glorified Christ to make disciples of all nations”.
“It turned the attention of the church inward on itself and robed the church of the energy to fulfil its mission to the world around it”.
“These distractions must be left behind and discouraged”.
Reverend Bishop Mathias Lima of SSEC has challenged the Church of how remarkable and worth remembrance was today’s SSEC for the future generation to celebrate the SSEC’s Centenary.
“We must not back down from what our pioneers have planted in our soils”.
“The challenge I wish to put across is that; how worth remembering was our time with the church as we did today that our next generation will commemorate?”
“What significant changes must we have to do to the church that worth remembering in the next fifty years?”
The Golden Jubilee was attended by the grandson of Miss Florence Young, Reverend Gordon Griffiths. Griffiths’ Grandmother was the sister of Griffiths’ grandmother who gave birth to Margaret Griffiths whose son was Gordon Griffiths.
Peter Ambuofa was departed to Glory on the 27th day of March 1937.
Miss Florence Young died in 1940.
Gordon Griffith’s mother and father, Margaret and Ken Griffiths died in 1984.
Peter Ambuofa’s Gospel rifle keeps on shooting that in 2013, Southern Region of Malaita has converted and baptised more than hundred heathen from Kwaio to be Christianised.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI