Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Pastor Apakuki Uluirewa draws strength from the Bible verse in Proverbs 17:22: A happy heart is a good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries the bone.

He is one of the pioneers of the Assemblies Of God Church in Fiji.
Now based in Australia, Mr Uluirewa still calls Fiji home and has not lost touch with members of the church.
His story is one filled with personal triumph in winning many to what now makes up the Assemblies of God, as well as other churches that have branched from the AOG.

Born in 1937, Mr Uluirewa hails from Nabouwalu Village in the district of Ono in Kadavu. Now 70, he can still remember when he was invited by a 10-year-old boy to attend a Sunday school class in Lautoka in 1957, for the first time. "That day is still fresh in mind as it was the day I officially attended a Sunday school class," he said.
Three years later, Mr Uluirewa was ordained as an AOG minister in Lautoka.

He was later one of the ministers who formed and opened what is now the Full Gospel Tabernacle church in Lautoka. A highlight in Mr Uluirewa's ministerial career was when he and a few other ministers had to compile an AOG hymn book.

"This was one of the greatest tasks but because it was God's work, there was nothing impossible in doing it," he said. Mr Uluirewa said they had to seek permission from the Methodist Church to use some of its songs. "At that time the general secretary of the Methodist Church was Reverend Andrew and he gave the approval to print and use some of the songs for the glory of God.

"Today it is still very much evident in much of the AOG hymns the Methodist influence, all for his glory."

There were also times when the churches were at loggerheads. "I remember when the Methodist Church gave a ruling that all children attending the Methodist Church schools and were members of the AOG were reprimanded from attending their schools.

"This saw the establishment of the AOG school in Kinoya and the first two buildings were bought from military barracks at Nasese."

Mr Uluirewa said it was also during trips to Samoa and Tonga that they were able to establish the church in the two neighbouring countries.

"We were the first ever to have an open session of singing and sharing God's Word in the market place at Nuku'alofa and the reception we got was what that led to the establishment of the church there," he said. Mr Uluirewa said a Gospel singing group was also formed by him and others to visit the growing number of church members and at the same time encourage pastors that were posted to rural areas.

"It was also at this time when opposition was great and because of our visits, most people were being baptised and converted to AOG. "To my surprise because of the increasing number of converts, murmurings from within the church started. "Through these murmurings, disagreement grew and it was decided that we would have our own church known as Apostles (Full Gospel Fellowship International AGOFI), but we did not severe any ties with AOG," he said.

Mr Uluirewa said AGOFI still had a very healthy relationship with the AOG church.
"Every time I visit Fiji, I make sure I visit both churches and gladly share the Word of God.
"Today we are happy for the achievements that the church has made over the years and the souls won back to the Lord and we hope that we would continue to do so for as long as the church lives."

Mr Uluirewa said he owed a lot to AGOFI president, Reverend Poate Mata. "It takes someone like him who can carry the light to shine in this world," Mr Uluirewa said. He said it was about time the church cared for another and walked in the right path for the glory of God.
Adapted from the Fijitimes