Keith has been the hard working Regional Secretary for many years and travels widely throughout the Region. Apart from keeping in touch with ICF members throughout the Region he is also responsible for administering new member applications from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and some parts of SE Asia.
Please pray for the people of Samoa and American Samoa. Tsunamis triggered by a strong quake in the South Pacific have killed many and left many more homeless.
Samoan officials say whole villages have been destroyed while thousands of people are reported to have been made homeless in American Samoa. An 8.3-magnitude quake struck at 6.48am local time, generating 4.5m waves in some areas of the islands.
A message went out on behalf of the co- Moderators, Executive and Members of ICF to the General Secretary of the Congregational Church in Samoa - and, in spite of the many great problems he is facing, the Rev. Iutisone Salevao took the time to send a very gracious response. The texts of the two messages are given below.
Sunday 11th October is celebrated as White Sunday in Samoa. This is usually a very joyous day when the children are celebrated especially, and everyone is dressed in white.
We all have the folk in Samoa in our prayers at this time - may we ask you to remember them especially this Sunday...... that we may be in fellowship with them on their special "White Sunday"?
Margaret Morris, from the Congregational Federation in the UK, went to Samoa for a special meeting of the Council for World Mission relating to children's work....... and she flew home to the UK just hours before the Killer Wave struck. Since her return Margaret has heard from another Samoan church leader, Tofa Soifua.
He wrote: "We deeply mourn the death of our brothers and sisters, especially the poor children. Still, we believe that God does not forsake us even in our most darkest hour. I marvel at the greatness of His mercy shown in such a time like this, through the many forms of help and concern, like your prayers and words of comfort." And looking to White Sunday he said: "No matter how dark and black the night is, there is always the dawn of the new day."
With best wishes, in Christ's name,
Val and Phaedon
These are the e-mail messages I referred to above:
To: The Rev Iutisone Salevao
The Congregational Church of Samoa
Dear Mr Salevao,
I am writing on behalf of my co-Moderator, the Rev. Phaedon Cambouropoulos, and the Executive and Members of the International Congregational Fellowship, to express our deep concern about the tragedy that the tsunami has brought to Samoa.
I know I can say that all our thoughts and prayers are with you - and with the people of American Samoa, and all those who have been affected by the sudden disaster which struck your beautiful islands.
We are also holding close to our hearts the many Samoans living in other parts of the world, such as Australia, New Zealand and places such as Los Angeles, who must be deeply concerned about the well-being of their families in their homeland.
The people of Samoa are very special. We care about you and we pray that the Lord will uphold you in this very difficult time.
In the name of Jesus, I send you our deepest good wishes and love.
Val Price (Mrs).
Co-Moderator of the International Congregational Fellowship.
The Rev. Iutisone Salevao replied…
Dear Mrs Val Price
International Congregational Fellowship
Our deepest gratitude for your concern and support. It is truly uplifting to know and be assured that our fellow christian brothers and sisters are with us in our time of sorrow.
Things have settled down somewhat. Today we are laying to rest other six members of our church, including a minister's wife. Day after tomorrow, we will hold a public funeral service for more than 100 victims of the disaster, a lot of them happen to be members of our church.
Although the full emotional and psychological impact is yet to be felt, we are doing our best to get on with the provision of assistance to the victims, most of whom have lost loved ones, houses and so much more.
The real challenge is yet to come. Rebuilding people's lives, houses and everything will be a daunting task indeed.
Please keep us in your prayers.
Rev Dr Iutisone Salevao
Congregational Christian Church of Samoa
Special services have been held in churches in Samoa, many of which are Congregational. You can read an excellent report about this in the Los Angeles Times by click this link.