Foursquare’s South Pacific region is the largest of the denomination’s regions, both geographically and numerically. Stretching from Southeast Asia throughout the Pacific Ocean—a body of water that covers one-third of the earth’s surface—Foursquare Missions International’s (FMI) South Pacific area comprises scores of countries and islands. Nations included in the region are American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, East Timor, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Micronesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti (French Polynesia), Tonga, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
Jerry Stott, FMI’s area missionary to the South Pacific, says that Foursquare has grown dramatically in this region in the past eight years, going from three registered nations to 12. Jerry and his wife, Julie, have served as area missionaries for eight years, as well. They lived in Sydney, Australia, for nearly six years, and have resided in Jakarta, Indonesia, for more than two years now. They have two adult children, both married, and two grandchildren.
“Traveling to the remote island nations of the South Pacific, we see souls that need Jesus, just like us,” Jerry tells Foursquare.org. “The value of their lives is always in our hearts as we bring the Good News.”
Jerry notes the importance of approaching the people of this region with a humble heart, as servants, bringing God’s love while showing respect toward the tribal cultures and their elderly, with a willingness to learn from them.
“These nations honor the elderly, their tribal leaders, and traditions within the cultures,” the area missionary explains. “Our job is not to mix our culture with theirs or change their cultures, but to simply bring the love of Jesus. Jesus came to save souls from eternal death and to bring Good News.”
The Good News is spreading through The Foursquare Church across the South Pacific region, and rapidly. The most recent statistics document 21,059 churches and meeting places in the area—18,980 in Indonesia alone. The Foursquare Church in Indonesia, in fact, plants around 600 churches each year.
In the past year, 762,935 people made first-time decisions to follow Christ—10,000 of those new converts in Papua New Guinea; 358,679 were baptized in water; and 415,097 were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Totaling Foursquare members and adherents in the region reveals an astounding number: 2.3 million.
In addition to churches and meeting places, Jerry notes, are many other ministries, including orphanages, schools, colleges and medical centers. Foursquare members have dug water wells, built new church buildings and homes, and conducted food outreaches, AIDS awareness, children’s ministries, women’s ministries, youth evangelism and evangelistic crusades. Leadership training and church planting are also ongoing.
Almost all of the nations in the South Pacific region are self-supporting, though many do get financial help, Jerry says, with church planting, leadership training and evangelism outreaches. Most of the nations are between stage one and stage three in Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model.
In stage-one works (the “initiate” stage), churches are evangelizing and discipling new believers. In stage two (the “nurture” stage), leaders are being reproduced. In stage three (the “expand” stage), congregations are multiplying. Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are currently stage-four nations (the “send” stage), meaning they have reached the point where they send missionaries to other countries.
“Our greatest joy in the ministry is the lives we touch with the gospel,” Jerry affirms. And though the challenges are many—including keeping up with such a large region, speaking up to 50 times each month, and also serving as the national leader of Foursquare Fiji—Jerry affirms it’s more than worth it. “We find the grace and strength to continue,” he says, “and experience the miracle that God is doing in the South Pacific.”
The area missionary is indeed experiencing miracles, firsthand. While he was ministering during an evangelistic outreach in Sigatoka, Fiji, for example, an Indo-Fijian woman came up to him with a very personal prayer request. She was unable to have children and had been to many doctors, all of whom had told her it was impossible for her to ever bear a child. In her culture, Jerry notes, this brings shame to a woman and her family, adding to the emotional toil that would normally be experienced. Depression had overtaken her, and she had lost all hope.
Arrangements were made for Jerry and another Foursquare church leader to go to her house and pray for her and her husband the following day. That night, Jerry says, he was visited by an evil spirit, which screamed in his face.
“I would have been terrified had I not just come out of a powerful church service,” Jerry recalls. “I laughed and said, ‘I guess I must have made the devil mad!’ At that response, the spirit disappeared before my eyes.”
The next day, Jerry and his colleague went to the woman’s house. Outside the door, they could both feel an evil presence. Jerry wondered if this was the visitor from the night before. They prayed before entering the home.
When they prayed for the woman, Jerry says, the Holy Spirit fell on her. Suddenly, he had extraordinary faith, and he declared that she had been healed.
One year later, Jerry returned to Fiji to minister in a church service. A woman holding a baby in her arms approached Jerry’s wife, Julie—it was the woman they had prayed for. The woman said that, after the prayer, she was pregnant within a week. This story, Jerry says, has spread as a witness of God’s power throughout the Sigatoka area.
Prayer and Support
So how can those of us in the U.S. best pray for and support Foursquare’s work in the South Pacific? Jerry requests prayer for more laborers to go into the field; for U.S. Foursquare churches to continue to give support through prayer and financial resources; and for The Foursquare Church as a whole to get excited for the incredible harvest that God is bringing.
“The harvest is truly ripe in the South Pacific. Even though we have already seen multiple tens of thousands of souls come to Jesus,” Jerry states, “there are millions of people who still need to be reached. We already have open doors to many nations, but just need people who are willing to make a real commitment to go and serve. We are believing for every Pacific Island nation to open to the Foursquare Gospel in the next 10 years.”
For information on helping FMI works around the world—including how to support the Global Missions Fund, a missionary or project, or to donate toward disaster relief, log on to https://give.foursquare.org. One hundred percent of every dollar given to the Global Mission Fund goes directly to the mission field. For details on short-term missions teams or other information related to FMI, visit http://www.foursquare.org/missions.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles