Every Sunday a small church meets in the bottom level of an apartment block in the middle of Suva. It is among hundreds of churches in and around the Suva area that congregate to worship and meet as a community.
The Reporters Academy, a youth media organization based in Melbourne, joined in the 3 o’clock service on Sunday, and eagerly enjoyed the experience. Chelsey, crewmember at The Reporters’ Academy who had never attended church before, said that it was “a real eye opener”. Another crewmember exclaimed that it was “the highlight of my trip so far”.
The Reporters' Academy was set to leave for home on Sunday but was grounded due to the floods affecting the region of Nadi, where the airport was shut and all roads closed.
TRA met Sainimilli Talatoka, from ONOC, at the PINA Pacific Media Summit, in which they presented The Reporters’ Academy to media delegates from all over the Pacific. When news reached Sainimilli that the group was grounded in Fiji, she generously invited them back to her church, and the crew arrived smiling on Sunday.
Religion is a large part of the culture in Fiji, with over 52% of the population Christian and 38% of the population Hindus. The Australian students marveled throughout the whole trip at how willing the Fijians were to embrace other religions other than their own and how open they were about their faith.
On Thursday the 8th, on the fifth day of their trip, The Reporters’ Academy visited Rampur College alongside ABC reporting correspondent Bruce Hill. There they met with students much like themselves and spoke to one another about the differences in their life and culture.
One popular topic that came up was the importance of faith in Fijians lives, and the openness in which they explored their faith with one another. The Australian students spoke about how often it is a taboo topic in the Australian culture and how people often close up when talking about it. The comparisons with the two sets of young people were far and wide in response to questions of faith and allowed The Reporters’ Academy students to open their eyes to a fresh and interesting perspective.
While The Reporters’ Academy students are now “ glad to be home” after all the drama of their overseas adventure, it is to be said that without the delay in their travels none of them would have ever had the “church experience”. Who knows – perhaps they were supposed to be there. God works in mysterious ways.