Joseph Talipuan, Stewardship Director

South Pacific Division

Summary: This stewardship director for the South Pacific Division talks about stewardship in his field.

Stewardship in the South Pacific

Question: “How long have you been serving as a stewardship director in the South Pacific Division (SPD)?”

My answer: I have been involved in this division as a stewardship director for just under three years.

Question: “What do you hear ‘stirring’ as you minister in the field?”

My answer: Most recently and frequently, I have heard commends of affirmation from those who have attended the stewardship meetings we have conducted.

In many cases they have been used to a stewardship concept that is narrowed to activities or behavior. Many have only viewed stewardship as a church department that specializes in raising funds for its operation.

However, today a new day is dawning. There is a totally different view of stewardship that is bringing a change of perspective or total paradigm shift as they realize stewardship is more than just talking about fund raising issues. It is a spiritual thing.

Many are beginning to grasp the concept that stewardship has more to do with the Lordship of Jesus than people trying to win God’s favor or doing something to win God.

They also realize that stewardship is an expression of devotion and a personal walk with God rather than only a church ritual. That stewardship is not about ‘things’ but about the heart„Ÿwhere the heart actually is, that is whether it is in God’s hands or in our own hands.

This approach has radically influenced people’s view, not only about stewardship but their spiritual life as a whole. I have seen people recommitting their lives to God and doing things they have never done before as they serve God. I am seeing ordinary people, affluent people, male and female, all taking their stand for God.

For example, Mr. Kila Wari, was a well educated CEO of a big corporate entity and after attending the stewardship meetings, he has now resigned from his job and is currently serving aboriginal communities in remote Western Australia. There are many more examples, but I do not have the time and space to write of their testimonies.

Question: “What are some of the most impressive stewardship testimonies that you have heard in your travels in SPD?”

My answer: The most impressive stewardship testimony is the testimony of people seeing God for the first time as a personal God who is involved not only in spiritual things, but also in their ordinary daily toils and activities. They now know that God walks among His people and that He is not far away but very close to them. When I see members succeeding in life and reaching their highest ideals and living with joy, it gives me great satisfaction.
I will illustrate this with the following testimony, I remember meeting a young man in his twenties named Paio Bale. He dropped out of school and got a job as a pub attendant.

He attended our evangelistic meetings and became an Adventist. He had very little job experience and could not get a job anywhere. However, with his little savings he built a small canteen and started acknowledging the principles of stewardship. Within a very short time he owned a mini supermarket. Now while I am writing this he is a millionaire with many properties, a hospitality business, and other investments. He continues to serve God by supporting the church in its ministry to share the love of Jesus in the world.

Question: “What is taking place in the field that is exciting in terms of stewardship?”

My answer: Stewardship concepts are being taught and presented across the islands and even more so in the Pacific Islands. I believe this partly because the concept of stewardship that is being promoted has a very unique way of inspiring and motivating people to develop a relationship with God. Many these days want something that addresses the deep yearning and longing in their hearts. Stewardship seems to address those issues and therefore it is creating a definite momentum in the island field.

However, that does not mean other areas are stalling. In fact, AUC is taking off as well. We have just printed the stewardship book “40 Days of Spiritual Journey” and it has been requested by all of our conferences and unions. This demonstrates to me that many want more resources on a spiritual relationship and on how to strengthen that relationship and faith in God.

Question: “What do you view as a significant topic in stewardship?”

My answer: The most significant topic in stewardship is ‘stewardship of love’ as it relates to giving. As people come to terms with the message “ for God so loved the world that He gave. . .” it inspires them to give back to God because they have received that unique gift of love from God. This is very fundamental. Without experiencing and knowing that love people may just end up being religious and not necessarily children of the living God.

In relationship to this topic I also view that we must find the connection between loving God and giving in response to that love relationship. In other words the concepts of stewardship need to become more an evidence of a love relationship than just a ritual or practice of the church.

My perspective is that what causes us to do things is more vital than what we are trying to do. There always seems to be a natural tendency in us to want to see results first before we move ahead. Many of us want to see a result promising and worthwhile before we strive for it. However in stewardship we must not let benefits or rewards drive us. I believe that these short motivational factors last only as long as one’s emotions and do not stand the test of time.

Question: “What words of encouragement do you have for those new in the ministry of stewardship?”

My answer: We must count ourselves as privileged people. We are agents for a changed life„Ÿa change that really counts. I know it is not easy to talk about stewardship. Sometimes it seems to hurt people, because it touches a most private and sensitive part of their life. They react against that; however, it is such reactions that demonstrate that this message is timely. It is meant for the very ones reacting towards this message.

A stewardship message is really the fulfillment of the gospel to make disciples. When you have a timely message like this you know you are in God’s hands doing His will„Ÿthat is more important than anything. So do not give in or give up.

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January–March, 2009

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