Parting words of a Christian
There is an age old phrase that many people quote, “You shouldn’t talk about religion or politics.”
The obvious answer is of course, that they can cause conflict.
And that is very true.
Perhaps another topic you could add to the two which often causes heated debates, is sport.
As a newspaper, we publish stories on all three topics and are often further called upon, to give opinions on the issues involved.
Our front page stories today are about two of those topics, sport and religion, and over the past year in particular, both boxing’s world heavyweight title holder Lupesoliai Joseph Parker and the Reverend Opapo Oeti have headlined in the news for varying reasons.
In today’s paper, the scheduled fight in two weeks between Lupesoliai and Hughie Fury is to all intents and purposes, not going to happen.
And while the news deserves its front page status for a number of reasons, it’s not the end of the world and we all know that another fight will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
But it is the story at the Congregational Christian Church at Falelatai which is the more moving and emotional tale which has had people questioning their beliefs and caused divisions in the community and in fact the country.
But in the best example of practicing the Christian values that we espouse as individuals and as a country, there has been acceptance,forgiveness, gratitude, acknowledgement and a willingness to move on in the best interests of all concerned at the coastal village.
It is not to say that the right or wrong decision was taken by the Elders of the church or the Village Council. But in the spirit of cooperation, a recognition of the rights of others to hold different opinions, the final service and sermon delivered by the Reverend Opapo Oeti and the words of his wife after 23 years in the community, were reportedly peaceful and healing to those listening in the congregation.
It is also a testament to the people in the village that members of other denominations also attended the farewell.
It would have been perhaps understandable if the Reverend had chosen a theme for his final sermon reflecting bitterness, sadness and even bewilderment at the events of the past year.
He did not.
Instead, his sermon was uplifting and focused on the importance of faith and not giving up in troubled times.
On the eve of his departure and that of his family after living and serving in a village for over two decades, it was a great illustration and example of the character and leadership of this man of God.