Issue No. 32/2020 – Wednesday, 09 September 2020 (Kitiona Tausi)
Tuvalu is a Christian country claiming more than 90% of the country’s 12,000 population to belong to the Congregational denomination, Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT), a few other Christians belong to minor religious groups claiming also to be Christians. Thus, almost a 100% of Tuvalu’s total population claim to be Christians.
Therefore, EKT plays a very important role in Tuvalu society, and since the global outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 virus in the beginning of the year, Tuvalu has a strong faith on its national motto “Tuvalu is for God’. This means that Tuvalu belongs to God and is under the care and the protection of God.
The country declared a State of Public Health Emergency since the middle of March 2020 and at the same down closed its borders and only allowed the cargo boat and the oil tanker to come to Tuvalu. Government also set up the National Coronavirus COVID-19 virus Taskforce to secure ways as how to protect Tuvalu from the virus.
Every-time when the cargo boat arrived after every three weeks, the Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism used to organize a special worship service to beseech God’s presence and guidance in the operation that would take place when the boat arrived. The same operation was also done when the oil tanker arrived in port.
Last month, the sea border was opened temporarily to allow the repatriation of fishery observers who had already completed their contracts on the per-seiner fishing boats but could not return home due to the lockdown. The same operation that applied to the cargo boat and the oil tanker was executed and had been successful.
Also at the start of the lockdown, government together with EKT convened a public worship service also to beseech God to protect Tuvalu from the virus. To date, Tuvalu is still free from the virus.
Tonight, the Ministry of Transport, Energy and Tourism also organized a special worship service to prepare the ministry who would be responsible for the operation tomorrow when the first flight to repatriate Tuvalu nationals who had been stuck in Fiji due to the lockdown arrive.
As a retired Ordained Minister of EKT, I conducted the service held at the Rt. Hon. Sir Toaripi Lauti International Airport Terminal that was attended by the Minister of the Ministry and spouse, Hon. Nielu Meisake and Mrs. Tamala Meisake, the Minister of Finance, Hon. Seve Paeniu, the CEO of the Ministry, Mr. Avafoa Irata, the Acting Director of Marine and Port Service, Mr. Leupena Sione, Assistant Secretary, Mr. Asela Terawaia and employees of the Ministry and officers from the Taskforce sub-group on Border Control and Security which included the Chairman of the group, Mr. Pasuna Tuaga, the Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Amuia Aligi and other officers.
The message of the special service this evening was “We have a loving God and He cares and protects us from any disaster.” I was using the text from Ecclesiastes 3: 13,15
“So I realized that all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God’s gift.” Whatever happens or can happen has already happened before. God makes the same thing happen again and again.
“In any disaster, God is our hope. He is a kind and gracious God and he cares and protect us from any disaster or impending disaster. Although, some Bible scholars and theologians believed that the God in the Old Testament is different from the New Testament God, most scholars believe that He is the same God in the Old Testament and in the New Testament who guided his people Israel to arrive at the Promised Land.
“Scholars argue that the God in the Old Testament is an angry God who leads Israel into war and also kill people, but the God in the New Testament is a God full of grace and a loving God.
“COVID-19 is not novel as some considered, some, to them is not so, it has happened before and again and again. It is novel because there is no cure but it is not novel because it kills many people like any other virus or disasters.
“Although it is a threat to human beings and the humanity is very concerned and panic about it, the Philosopher said that ‘all we can do is be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God’s gift.’
“Therefore, in respect of COVID-19 virus, it is a global crisis unless the scientists have found a vaccine or otherwise it can become part of our normal life like the cancer disease, it has still no cure but has become part of our normal life and life will continue as God desires.”
So after the service, the attendants were invited for some refreshments and then few speeches were Hon. Nielu Meisake encouraged the ground force who would be responsible for the arrival of the flight including the immigration, the Customs and health officers and all others to be responsible and do their duties diligently as they are serving the nation.
“We have successfully done some operations during the lockdown especially the repatriation of our fishery observers and hopefully the operation tomorrow will be likewise,” said Hon. Meisake
The Chairman of the Border Control and Security, Mr. Pasuna Tuaga assured the attendants that government is ready for tomorrow’s operation and that everything is set and he was quite confident that it would be another successful operation. He also advised that we should not panic and trust that government and the taskforce will ensure the safety of the ground force as well as the safety of Tuvalu from the virus.
CEO Avafoa Irata also referred to the Minister and Mr. Tuaga’s remarks and he requested all those who would be involved in tomorrow’s operation to do their best and follow the procedures of the operation.