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A week of church events and challenges of today

All is well that ends well. The past couple of weeks have been eventful and busy for some of the biggest church denominations in the country with their annual conferences and the hosting of some very high profile visitors.Each of these churches had different messages not just for their members and supporters but for Samoans and non Samoans from all different walks of life.Now some people say Samoa has too many churches and we talk too much about God when some things that are happening don’t reflect it. We agree to an extent.But we would also argue that Samoa is not alone when it comes to a lot of crimes and bad behaviour we see. These crimes are universal and in fact it would be quite scary to imagine Samoa without the churches.It’s true that we are not perfect.But it could be a lot worse. Which is why the messages from all these different churches are not only important, it is quite refreshing and much needed. The thing is, they might be different by name but they all share the same passion, to help people deal with their struggles.At Pesega for instance, thousands of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints gathered last week to welcome their President and Prophet, Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy Nelson. For members of the church, it was an occasion to behold.“The main message everywhere we go is to come unto Christ and receive his blessings in your life,” President Nelson said in response to being asked how the church can respond to the challenges of today. “Everyone has a choice, either to choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ or to choose another path. As his disciple I invite people to come unto Christ because he will make life better for you.”Of course President Nelson wasn’t the only one talking about Jesus Christ and the work of the church on earth this week.While members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were buzzing with their Prophet’s visit, up the road at Lotopa, hundreds of members of the Assemblies of God Church in Samoa gathered for their 50th Annual Conference.  Guided by the theme “The Church the body of Christ,” Superintendent Reverend Dr. Tavita Pagaiali’i highlighted their message in response to the growing number of challenges people are confronting today."We deal with preaching the word of God and in the message we try to deliver is that there will always be challenges in life but only our saviour Jesus Christ is the answer to solving these problems and hardships," he said."We have no power to change a person's life. Only Jesus can truly transform the lives of people and so we depend on God to change the lives of others both from inside and out.“We must understand that Jesus said that 'I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me', which means only through Him that we can be saved."Down at Malua, the biggest denomination in the country gathered for their General Assembly. The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa’s annual conference started last week with the women’s fellowship followed by the main conference, which attracted hundreds of church members from abroad and in Samoa.The Malua conference has become an institution in Samoa. It’s an annual pilgrimage that stops the nation and could possibly be regarded as a national event on the calendar. In the newspaper you are reading today, we have provided extensive coverage of the conference, reflecting its importance.But it’s not all about taxes, monies and positions. The C.C.C.S. being the biggest denomination in Samoa plays a vital role in shaping behaviour and influencing changes.Reverend Elder Samuelu Limu Samuelu of the Congregational Christian of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) at Saoluafata knows this. Speaking to the Samoa Observer, he said the church has a critical role to play to tackle some of the problems today."Especially the Church Ministers and leaders," he said. "And I am not particularly talking about Church Ministers for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, I know it's the same for every other pastors from other denominations. It is part of our calling to help out in solving these issues concerning our people."How? "For our church, pastors are the ones who nurture the spiritual lives of our children. Starting from when they are young with the introduction of literacy and numeracy through our Sunday schools and Pastor schools,” he said."We lay out this foundation for them with the belief that if we start them right at a young age, they will grow up and become very intelligent people not only academically but also spiritually."It was how our lives were formed up by our ancestors and forefathers. We were nurtured first of all in the comfort of our homes and the church. The elders of the church always emphasis on this and encourages all the Church Ministers to continue on this practice as it really helps our youths."We also try and engage them in programs so they are able to work with other fellow youth members and build relationships so they can learn from their experiences and a stronger bond in Jesus."In the end, Rev. Samuelu echoed the opinions President Nelson and Superintendent Pagaiali’i."Jesus is the answer to any of our problems,” he said. “No problem is too big for him. The church has a role, so as the village council, the government and also families. If we work together, it will make everything easy. It will make a huge difference."Wise and wonderful words from Rev. Samuelu. In fact all three churches share the same passion.But now comes the hard part, walking it out and living it.What did Jesus Christ do? Well he didn’t rob the poor, he didn’t manipulate their thinking and he didn’t take anything from them. He loved them, cared for them and gave his life to save them.Shouldn’t the church be doing the same thing?Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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Street Talk

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Members of the public have their say on question of street addresses

Things have changed in Samoa and everything should change. Having a street address will make things easy for people when receiving mail, instead of going to the Samoa Post Office and making people like myself waste money travelling. As we know our country is developing, street address should be introduced. Another benefit is that people will easily find their relatives' addresses.In my view, having a street address is a great idea because it saves us time and money. Using a mailbox for our mail, which can be delivered to our street address is good, and it also creates employment opportunities for those seeking jobs.It is a great idea to have a street address for our homes, people don't get to spend money coming from home to the Post office just to get the mail, and go back home. I prefer having a mailbox in front of the house when the street addresses are set because it will be easier for me to get the mail and to be located. Well having a street is a great benefit for the people who live far from town because they have to come all the way from there village to town to get their mails and then back home. And they will spend money and waste time to travel far just to pick up a mail from the post office. Having a mail box or street address will help them save money and time they spend on travelling from their village to town. Another benefit is employment opportunities for people who are seeking for jobs such as a delivery man.I totally agree with having a mail box in every Samoan houses because it will help locals to receive their mails on time and knowing where the mail must go to, and not having the problem of waiting for a long time for mail to arrive. Furthermore, having the whole day waiting in a long line just to get a mail can be solved with having a mail box, and not have to go back and forth everyday to check if the mail has arrived or not.Well I totally agree that Samoa should have street addresses because it will make things easier to find, where our relatives live, and solves the confusion about locations. For example, like having members of the family living in Apia, but Apia is a big place, so having the street address will it make it easy to find them. On the other hand, having a mail box or street address is fast to locate where the mail is sent to, and the person who is going to receive the mail.

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Letter to Editor

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U.S. Ambassador tries but no one is fooled

The photo in Wednesday’s Samoa Observer of the American Ambassador and his good lady with Imam Laulu Mohammed Stanley is very touching. Such fake empathy and compassion! If Ambassador Brown is truly sympathetic about what happened to the Muslim community in Christchurch, why not do something real like telling his boss in the White House and his former employers at Fox News to stop demonizing the Muslims with lies and fake news? And while you’re at it by the way, do the same with the evangelical so-called Christians of America.Because when you have such power over how people think and behave, you can’t go on preaching hate against other peoples and then not expect your followers and admirers somewhere to act on it. Words have consequences, the more so when they come from leaders. And what good is wearing a hijab in Samoa other than to take people here for fools, and to copycat the incomparable Ms. Ardern? The big difference is that Ms. Ardern wore the signature Muslim women dress with panache, compassion and most importantly sincerity. The whole world saw that in her, and with the exception of you know where, applauded. She also backed it up immediately afterwards with concrete action.  So please don’t add insult to injury and desecrate the hijab.  Your current employer in the White House and former employer at Fake News continue to empower killers like what’s his name in the Christchurch massacre. Wearing the hijab at this time is nothing but hypocrisy of the highest order and fools no one here. E le valea uma ValeGasa Lefa T. Vailima

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