Tevita and Iva Naiteitei are a Fijian couple who have been living and working on Norfolk Island for 11 years. Tevita is a chef, and Iva is a housekeeper in one of the resorts. When they were still living in Fiji, they were baptised and joined the Community Church on the island. Tevita was later asked to be an assistant pastor and was ordained by the Community Church.
In 2010, they attended a seminar held by Pr. Mike Browning, and for the first time they encountered the Sabbath. The concept was strange at the time, and because it didn’t make sense, they didn’t pay it much attention. Even still, they continued attending the seminars.
During 2013, they encountered the Sabbath again in another seminar held by Pr. Mike Browning. This time, however, it was different. They went home and studied the subject and came to the conclusion that this was the truth. Because it was the truth, they knew in their hearts they would have to follow it.
The big problem was that both Tevita and Iva were working in the hospitality industry, which is a seven days a week situation; they were both working on Saturdays. They wrestled with the problem during the first few months of this year. Finally they decided they would take a stand and try to arrange to have Sabbaths free. But before they could do anything themselves, God took matters into His hands.
Iva, who had recently changed jobs, was asked to return to her previous job because they could not do without her. She said the only way she would return was if she did not have to work from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. They accepted the condition, and she now has Sabbaths free.
Tevita, on the other hand, was on the verge of asking for a change in his work roster. Instead, one day, he was called into the office and given a new roster! All Sabbath work was gone! He was very happy and said that that was the schedule he wanted to work from now on. Both Tevita’s and Iva’s employers are completely in the picture about their reason for not working on Sabbath. In fact, the hospitality industry on the island is amazed that they have managed to get Saturdays, one of the busiest days in the week, off of their work schedules.
Tevita and Iva, together with their son Trakka, have been attending the Norfolk Island SDA church every Sabbath for the last two and a half months. They have also continued to attend the Community Church, but now, because of his Sunday work commitments, Tevita is no longer able to help with preaching and teaching. As a result, he had to tell his pastor about their life-altering decision. Communicating this triggered a letter from the head pastor in Sydney in charge of the Community Church. The letter blasted Tevita and Iva for joining the SDA church and instructed them to do nothing until the head pastor had come to see them personally. Tevita and Iva were amazed at the tone of the letter and asked Pr. Dion Fourie, pastor of the Norfolk Island SDA Church, to help them draft a letter to the head pastor, contesting his claims about what SDAs believe and to rebut his arguments. After the letter was sent off in response to the head pastor, no further correspondence was received.
Through all of this, Tevita and Iva have stood firm, being strengthened by the prayers of local church members and the intercession of all the prayer warriors from the mainland. The Sabbath is important to them, and they have decided that they cannot go back on their decision to honour it. As a result of this, they requested to join the SDA church by profession of faith, which was arranged for 21 June 2014. On that day, Iva gave a testimony of the journey they have been on with Christ, which culminated in their commitment to keep the Sabbath holy, as God has asked them to do. They were accepted into the church by unanimous vote and are now officially part of the Norfolk Island SDA Church (they have been involved sporadically for the last four years).
This article is a follow-up on the article titled, “Understanding God’s Continuous Movement at Norfolk Island SDA Church” from the January – February 2014 IntraSyd.
Contributed by Pastor Dion Fourie, Pastor of the Norfolk Island SDA Church.