ADVENTIST HISTORY IN FIJI

Until the Methodist missionaries came to Fiji in the 1830's, the Fijian people had been infamous for their history of cannibalism and violence.

The first Adventist contact in Fiji was the arrival of the ship the "Pitcairn" in 1891. The Pitcairn missionaries began to conduct meetings for the Fijians. Two of the missionaries, John and Hannah Tay remained in Suva while the others journeyed to neighbouring islands to canvass books to the Fijians.


John Tay

John Tay died in 1892, five months after his arrival. As the founder of the Pitcairn, he had been responsible for bringing Adventist teachings to the Pacific islands.

In 1895 Pastor John Cole and his wife, Fanny, transferred to Suva as did Pastor John Fulton and his family. The Fulton family settled with the Coles in Tamavua, north of Suva.

During Fulton's early ministry in Fiji, he and Pauliasi Bunoa, a retired Methodist minister, translated a book about the Saturday Sabbath.  Fulton went on furlough to America, and while he was away Pauliasi was struggling with his conscience. Whilst helping Fulton translate the book he himself had become convinced of its truth. When Fulton returned Pauliasi decided to observe the Sabbath. It was not long before others followed his example and made the same decision.

Cole went to America to commission funds for a printing press and the funding for another missionary couple. Calvin and Myrtle Parker were chosen, and sailed to Fiji.

In 1898 the Parker's moved to the village of Suva Vou. Their first converts were the chief of the village and his wife, who were baptised.

The Pitcairn visited Fiji again in 1900, bringing with it the long-awaited printing press. Fulton began to distribute a tract called "Rarama"("Light"). In a few years  2,000 copies were being distributed monthly.

Arthur Currow, a nurse arrived in 1901 and began to treat the sick, and train others to do similar work in villages.

The Parkers conducted classes for the people in the village of Lakembo.  Despite fierce government opposition, the Parkers persisted, and the following year they baptised ten Fijians and started a church.

Fulton and Parker began plans for a training school to be established in Fiji. In 1905 a suitable property was located and by 1907 the school was completed and dedicated. The site became the base of the Adventist Mission in Fiji and the surrounding area.

Parker was appointed as superintendent of Fiji Mission and he began to journey into the Colo district by foot.  200 km and 12 baptisms later, he returned, leaving behind clusters of new Adventists.

In 1910, Alipati and his wife, Eseta (one of Pauliasi's daughters) helped start a second church on Vanua Levu. By 1912 all the larger islands of Fiji and many smaller ones had heard of the Adventist message. However, virtually nothing had been done for the 45,000 Indian population.

In an attempt to reach the Indian population, temporary schools and Missions were set up. A permanent school was established at Samambula in 1914, taught by Ellen Meyers, an Anglo-Indian lady.

Conflict and debate rose around the Indian School, as the conversion of Hindus proved to be much more difficult than the conversion of the Methodist Fijians. Due to a lack of immediate results funding to the school was reduced, and it was forced to close.  Ellen Meyers later reopened another school for Indian children.

By 1915 there were over two hundred Seventh-Day Adventists in Fiji. These people's conversions were the result of the hardworking missionaries who paved the way for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji.