IFES

Students Reaching Students with the Gospel

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birth of a new movement

after just 6 weeks we have met almost 100 students through these meetings!
Tonga is an archipelago of 176 islands (52 of which are inhabited), scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of ocean in the South Pacific. On one of these islands is a campus of the University of the South Pacific, where about 1,400 students enrol each semester. Every year graduates of this university become teachers, lawyers, health officers, clergy, politicians and other prominent citizens shaping Tongan society. Ma'afu, a church minister, and his wife Bessie, looked at the church and society around them and saw a deep need for change. They felt a burden to see a new generation of biblically mature Christian leaders raised up in Tonga. They began to pray. An answer to their prayers came on New Year's Eve 2010, when Fusi, the former director of a Christian organisation in Tonga, called and said she was looking for a man to co-lead a student ministry at the university! So, early in 2011, the Tonga Fellowship of Evangelical Students (TFES) was born, with a mission of ‘setting hearts on fire with the gospel of God'. While God was at work in hearts on Tonga, the Spirit was also stirring up a young man in Australia. Lachlan began a trainee program through his IFES group at Sydney University. After three months in Vanuatu, he went to Tonga, just in time to join the launch of TFES! Lachlan writes: 'The public face of the TFES is a main fellowship meeting in the campus cafeteria each Wednesday lunchtime. Before each meeting, we extend personal invitations throughout the campus. Each meeting has looked different so far, as we try to find our feet and incorporate students in up-front roles, but the main staple of these meetings is the faithful Bible teaching of Ma'afu on Psalms. 'After just 6 weeks we have met almost 100 students through these meetings! In addition, we are trying to introduce smaller groups where students can gather to discuss the Bible, pray together, and keep one another accountable. This concept is very new to Tonga where everything is normally done as a large group, so we are thinking further about different ways that we can reach the same goals. 'One of our current struggles is the follow-up of all these new students. There are just too many too soon! I'm confident that some of these students have come to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour for the first time.' Praise God with us for this new movement in Tonga! Please pray that God would clear the path for good follow-up and discipleship of all the students, and that his word would take deep root in their hearts. Pray for a Thursday afternoon training course where students are learning how to read and interpret the Bible. Give thanks for Losena, who has joined the staff team. Pray for Lachlan as he learns the local language, and for good lines of communication with students and staff, across cultural and linguistic differences. Pray for Ma'afu and Bessie as they attend a training course in New Zealand over Easter, and for plans to hold a student retreat at the end of the current semester.

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