Last Supper, Christianity in Samoa and fruits
The commissioning of a Samoan version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece "Last Supper" on the wall of the Cabinet room should not surprise anyone.
As if amending the Constitution to place Christianity in the text making Samoa an official Christian state, our coat of arms in that Samoa is founded on God and the number of church buildings in this nation are not enough; the Government wants you to be absolutely sure that this is a religious country, no ifs, no buts.
As a nation where 99 per cent of the population would identify as Christians, many of us would find it hard to fault the Government’s zeal for God and things that are Christian. Which is why we welcome the decision by the Secretary to Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, to explain the rationale behind blasting the “Last Supper” all over the Cabinet chamber, especially at a time like this.
It’s undeniable that there is trouble on the horizon locally and globally. Governments, economies, environment, financial institutions and all sectors of society are being shaken and tested like never before. These are perilous times, times defined by fear, anxiety, pestilences and trepidation. Everywhere we look, there is trouble.
But this is where faith becomes very important, it is the stuff that sustains a people, hope amidst adversity, tribulations and trials. Faith is the substance of things unseen and hoped for. And it is in God that Samoa has placed her trust to steer and steady the ship as we navigate these very challenging waters.
As part of this journey, the Government and Cabinet play a critical role in paving the way. And according to Agafili, as a Christian country, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Mailelegaoi and his disciples summon divine intervention in everything they do.
"The Lord’s guidance is always sought through prayer before Cabinet meetings are convened, and a prayer of thanksgiving is said when the meetings end," Agafili explained in an opinion piece he penned and was published last week.
"All policy decisions for the development of the country are made in the chamber. The magnitude of the workload that is undertaken in the chamber is gigantic and pressurizing, as the Prime Minister and Cabinet are mandated to make decisions every week for the country. They are there to plan, decide, budget, implement and monitor developments for Samoa from a whole of government viewpoint."
Wonderful. We don’t dispute for a second that Cabinet has a very difficult job to do. We don’t envy the difficulty they must encounter all the time when they have to make those decisions which is why it is important that they seek divine intervention.
But Agafili also revealed that “the sole purpose and meaning behind the Ministry’s proposal” for the painting was based on a scripture II Chronicles 7:14. It reads: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Now this is an interesting scripture but it could not be more apt for these times. It’s a scripture that calls for repentance and how it should be done. Repentance is required when people commit wrong. There is reason to believe Samoa has moved away from its pledge as a Christian nation.
Despite what our leaders say about God and what they profess to believe, we are seeing a greater manifestation of evil on the increase everywhere. Petty crimes, addiction problems, domestic violence, murder, rape, breaking in and entering, illegal drugs, incest, youth suicide, dishonesty, violence are all on the rise.
During the past few months, the Police have repeatedly reported that crime statistics have continued to increase, as high as 25 percent compared to the previous year. Elsewhere, the Samoa Victims Support Group has decried the scary rise in cases of domestic violence and sexual attacks on innocent women and children.
How is this possible in a Christian country? This is where we look to our leaders, Government and elsewhere. Judging from what is happening, Samoa today is a mess because unbridled pride has allowed leaders to behave as if they are invincible, subjecting people to ridicule, abuse and treating them with such disrespect. We find it extremely hard to believe how certain politicians can seek “divine intervention” in that Cabinet room and then come out and abuse people with their words and actions. It is such a complete travesty when everyday we hear and see offensive and inconsiderate language being used by leaders in the media and in public. Where is God in all this?
Now think of the concept of transparency, accountability and good governance, something we are sure God would be interested in. Where is that in Samoa today when it comes to decision making, law making and dealing with grievances from members of the public?
The point is that if Samoa and her leaders are serious about Christianity and God, this must be reflected in what is happening in this country, especially the behaviour of our leaders. They can start by showing some class, speaking with respect and treating people with dignity. Anybody can claim to be a Christian but it’s integrity and actions, which proves who they really are. That’s what matters.
If the Government and Cabinet want to make a point about being a Christian nation and be taken seriously, their behaviour and what happens on the ground everyday would be a better way to show that. It is also the scriptures, which tell us that “you will know them by their fruits.”
On this Sunday, let’s continue to uplift our nation, our leaders and all the people of Samoa in prayer, God bless!