Gold Medal Glory
Rugby is a national sport for Fiji. This nation, comprised of 125 inhabited islands, has a population of about 900,000 people. I read that about two-thirds of the people are Christian. The deep faith of these people was put on display when the Men's Rugby Seven team won the gold Olympic medal--the first Olympic medal ever! Nick Mulvenney of "The Herald" wrote about how the team gave honor to God: "Their mission complete, the Fijian players, many of them in tears, linked arms in a circle on the halfway line and sang together with eyes raised up to the dark skies above."
I watched as Fiji’s players sang their hearts out. They also prayed and then came together in a tight circle. Every player had his hand pointed up to heaven as they gave God the glory for the victory. These players represent the fruit of a great revival that occurred in Fiji in 2002.
Before the revival Fiji was in deep trouble because of the practices of the many tribes that comprise the nation. Horrific tribal fighting was taking place. Superstition, sorcery and cannibalism were practiced. The crime rate was high. The sins of this nation impacted the earth and sea. Coral beds were dying, fish were depleted, streams were filled with toxins, fields were unproductive and the economy was going down the tubes. With this as a backdrop, a prayer movement was birthed by a few and began to grow. Pastors joined together across denominational lines to pray. The movement started to touch members of the government. Acting Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase gave a public apology for the shameful way in which certain ethnic groups had been treated. Leaders in the highest levels of government modeled repentance and fasting and prayer. Entire island populations joined the movement.
George Otis, Jr. (OpenHeaven.com), who studied revivals around the world, came to see for himself the phenomena that began to occur in Fiji. He found that the dying coral reefs were coming back to life, fish were returning, streams were healed, and crops were growing. He saw the manifestation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 before his very eyes. "If my people, who are called by my name, will 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."
The Fiji study done by George Otis found that there were 10 keys to the revival and its long-term impact: (1) key leaders faithful to intercede, (2) deep humility in leaders, (3) youth with a zeal for intercession, (4) unity among all churches, (5) leaders first to humble themselves and repent, (6) the importance of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and restitution, (7) corporate repentance before individual response, (8) simple faith, (9) historical sin dealt with, (10) spiritual warfare undertaken. The healing that came to Fiji was amazing! Years later the imprint of revival remains as was seen by the humble Fiji Rugby Seven team. They unashamedly gave glory to God on the world stage.
I long to see revival in our nation. I believe that the Lord wants to give it to us when the timing and circumstances are right. In the meantime, it is up to us to be faithful in prayer--prayer for our churches, leaders and land. As the prophet Hosea says, "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers righteousness on you." (Hosea 10:12)
Joan E. Mathias