The Next Step – Discipleship

Pa'u Fereti Puni

Last week I received an e-copy of the General Conference BRI Newsletter (April Edition, 2012) and an e-copy of the Leadership Development Journal of the Trans-European Division of the General conference (April Edition, 2012). I must say that, after reading both, I have now taken a different view to the Sabbath dilemma in Samoa.

In short, circumstances surrounding the Samoa Sabbath dilemma have come together in such a way that this is a “greater awakening and shaking time” for Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa, the Pacific region and the worldwide church. God will watch out for His own who are going through the Refiner’s fire.

Last week I received more discouraging news from Samoa, of how the ‘majority’ of SDAs are settling into the convenience of Sunday keeping, making business and social activities on the 7th-day Sabbath a norm — including many of my family members.

Two photos: Divine Service preacher Tofilau Iose Mataafā from Glenala Church in Brisbane playing the trumpet with Tomasi Fanene on the keyboard with a rendition of “How Great Thou Art” at Lighthouse on Sabbath 28th April 2012

Another sad reality is the fact that, the longer the SPD and STM Sunday Keeping Edict is allowed by the General Conference to continue without any decisive action, the more SDAs in Samoa are now joining the Samoa Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church (SISDAC), a breakaway organisation from the mother church. Unfortunately, it’s the practical option for most, at least to worship with others who are faithful in keeping the 7th-day Sabbath.

For the ‘minority’ SDA Sabbath Keepers in Samoa, and those who are promoting the need to revert to true Sabbath keeping in Samoa, the experience has brought a renewal of personal relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath. So it is with all who set to work for God.

This brings me to the point about discipleship. If we try to receive from Christ without passing it on, we die spiritually. Those who stop working, die spiritually. It’s the difference between a fresh-water lake and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea only receives water. All fresh-water lakes receive to give — they have water flowing in and out. This needs to be actively taught to every believer — and every new member of the Sabbath Keepers Network.


As the dust settles, with the Samoa Sabbath dilemma, the need now is for the SDA Sabbath Keepers in Samoa to become “disciples” and not “consumers.” This requires the empowering of our current members to take the next step in our conviction; part of following Christ is obedience to the call to go out, including Pa’u, and make disciples of other people (Mt 28:18-20). I believe this will be the measure of true Sabbath keeping in Samoa.

Lighthouse worshippers on Sabbath, 28 April 2012 which includes the Laulii members

Ellen White wrote about the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well:

“As soon as she had found the Saviour the Samaritan woman brought others to Him. She proved herself a more effective missionary than His own disciples. The disciples saw nothing in Samaria to indicate that it was an encouraging field. Their thoughts were fixed upon a great work to be done in the future. They did not see that right around them was a harvest to be gathered. But through the woman whom they despised, a whole cityful were brought to hear the Saviour. She carried the light at once to her countrymen.

“This woman represents the working of a practical faith in Christ. Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life.” (Desire of Ages, p. 195)

In the Leadership Development Journal (April 2012), there is a book review on Leighton Ford’s Transforming Leadership. It points to the 10 aspects of Jesus as a ‘transformational’ leader:

  1. The Leader as Son:  Jesus knew who he was – he had a quiet sense of confidence that grew from his relationship with the Father.
  2. The Leader as Strategist:  Jesus knew where he was going – he had a strong sense of purpose.
  3. The Leader as Seeker:  Jesus had his own standard of success – he stood for the values of the kingdom.
  4. The Leader as Seer:  Jesus saw things clearly – he had a steady vision.
  5. The Leader as Strong One:  Jesus showed strength of character – he had the moral authority to move others.
  6. The Leader as Servant:  Jesus knew the price of leadership – he was willing to give himself.
  7. The Leader as Shepherd Maker:  Jesus had a strategy to develop leaders – he aimed to reproduce himself in them.
  8. The Leader as Spokesperson:  Jesus knew the importance of communication – he could articulate his vision.
  9. The Leader as Struggler:  Jesus was prepared to face conflict – he was gracious, courageous and wise.
  10. The Leader as Sustainer:  Jesus made provision to keep the movement going – he was committed to the future.


Toailoa Vaosa, Lance Cutts and others who are worshipping at the Lighthouse on Sabbath, 28 April 2012

The special feature article “It does not affect me” and other myths about Religious Persecution in the General Conference BRI Newsletter (April Edition 2012) the author John Graz writes.

“Persecution is part of the whole Christian package, in much the same way that illness and death are part of our human heritage. It is a reality we cannot avoid – it is an evitable by-product of the great cosmic conflict between God and the enemy of truth. The apostle Paul wrote that ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12)

“Jesus said to His disciples: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kind of evil against you because of me (Matt 5:11). What is the antithesis of religious freedom? The answer is ‘religious persecution’. While religious freedom is a gift of God, a mark of His great love for humanity, persecution bears the signature of the Devil.

“The unspoken thought seems to be, ‘Why is this relevant to me? Persecution belongs to a time and place far removed from where I live today. Perhaps persecution lies somewhere in the future, we tell ourselves.”

This is so true of the view being promoted by the Samoa Tokelau Mission and supported by some Samoans overseas arguing the Sabbath issue in Samoa should not involve the worldwide church and Samoans overseas. Let me remind everyone that the Sabbath issue is a core doctrine of the SDA faith, not just for Samoa or Tonga, which makes it a worldwide issue.

According to Samoan Pastor Eddie Erika, “Culturally, Samoans are taught from their childhood to respect leaders. An admirable character trait that is intrinsically etched in the psyche of a Samoan. Those who take the risk to think “outside the block,” if they are unsuccessful are mocked and disgracefully ridiculed.”

In Samoa today, persecution is real. More alarming is that Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath Keepers are being persecuted by SDA Sunday Keepers. Remember the story of Sepulona and Fuatia Hugo of Samatau? However, it also reminds me of Luke 14:27, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

A second article in the BRI April issue is titled ‘Revelation’s Perspective on Persecution’ by Ekkehardt Mueller who writes.

Elder Matamua Vaea Ulaula and wife, Savali Ulaula

“Those of us who do not experience persecution by non-Christians or Christians may overlook the pervasive theme of persecution in John’s Apocalypse or reserve it for the last segment of earth’s history only. Yet such short sightedness may also prevent us from understanding and supporting suffering brothers and sisters today.”

One of the points that stood out for me is this article is under the heading “Persecution will be trigger by the rejection of loyalty to human institutions.” Can this be the case in Samoa today with the Sabbath dilemma and the STM and SPD directive?

(Adapted from SKN Newsletter #11)



The Next Step – Discipleship — 6 Comments

  1. Please be encouraged Lighthouse members. We can only guess how much courage it took to step out for the true Sabbath. God bless you and keep you. We pray that the Aug 2 meeting in Sydney will produce a miracle which brings Samoa’s Adventists back together in truth. If it happens please do not ridicule the leaders who made this bad decision, just praise our great God for humility and repentance. They are still a gift of God, not from out of our righteousness. We don’t have any of our own.

  2. “Let me remind everyone that the Sabbath issue is a core doctrine of the SDA faith, not just for Samoa or Tonga, which makes it a worldwide issue.”

    Amen, brother! May this message be spread far and wide! Just because there may be differing opinions as to which day is the Sabbath in some places, doesn’t mean that there is no positively definite answer to the question. We have Sunday keepers in North America, too. It’s just that very few of them call themselves Seventh-day Adventists.

  3. Happy Sabbath from Samoa,
    It is another blessed Saturday Sabbath here in Samoa, at grass roots we are experiencing the blessings and relationship that comes from standing for God’s truth.

    The number of Samoans returning to worship on God’s true Sabbath(the sign between HIM and HIS people continues to grow every week. From the first Sabbath after the date change back in December, where 8 of us worshiped at home, our numbers have grown to nearly 500.

    The blessing of worship now is that every one of these people have been touched by God, our meetings are not filled with those warming the pews or those with no relationship with God who through habit and culture allow leaders to determine their eternal destiny. God knows us better than we know ourselves and HE is wanting to turn a lukewarm church into a towering inferno, (speaking of towering infernos the independent SISDAC church was burnt to the ground this week here in Apia)

    The Lighthouse has grown fast, and we have continually had to obtain more chairs as we grew in numbers each week. We are just in the process of starting a multi-cultural church, the first of our splitting into small groups, the aim is to keep growing in the Spirit and developing so that small groups can start up back where people live.

    We are blessed to have Dr Jeri Puni standing side by side with us and now providing pastoral care to a people that really needed it as we have been displaced from our places of worship and have had all pastoral care taken away from us!

    Dr Jeri is the only pastor at this stage who has put his job on the line in this stand against apostasy. He was head of theology at Fulton College when he was asked to present a paper supporting the Sunday worship that the SPD was looking to push through in order to cover the church’s mistakes in Tonga.

    We are living in end times and the biggest aspect of this whole issue that I can report from Samoa is that even though the majority will despise and reject you if you stand with God, His peace and strength fill you to your bones.

    Come soon Lord Jesus and in the meantime wrap us in your mighty arms and make us everything you want us to be!Amen!

  4. Amen bro Lance, the lighthouse is an inspiration to those within Samoa and those of us outside. The loving and tender care of the Holy Spirit is evident through the growing numbers of our brethren who know the truth of God’s 7th-Day Sapati and who love Him and obey His commandments! The power of prayer is awesome and God always answers our heartfelt “wants & needs”. Certainly, He watches over you and Merita and all those true Sabbath-Keepers as shining examples for His glory! May God continue to bless the lighthouse and the Holy Spirit continue to touch the hearts of the Sunday Worshippers to return to truth and obey God’s Word. ulalei

  5. I am pround of you Dr.Jeri Puni & so would your family from Samatau who I knew over 60 years ago – You are doing the right thing. You are a true 7th-Day Adventist & not a 1st-Day Adventist. The sooner the SPD wake up to their mistake the better for the Church in Samoa.
    Where does the Lighthouse Church meet in Apia? Would someone give me the address or location.

    • Hi Joy
      The lighthouse meet in Ala Fua on a section right next to the ala fua sda church. Dr Jeri Puni and the multiculture church meet at the hall at Samoa College in vaivase. I know both groups would welcome your visit.!

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