I grew up in a strong Methodist family in Fiji, accepting Jesus Christ as my saviour at 16. It was first love—a very enthusiastic relationship.
I stayed strong in my faith for two years, but then peer pressure led me to jump the fence into a very different life. I was drinking, taking drugs, and in and out of relationships. I thank God that I didn’t end up a prostitute or in prison like some of my friends.
I met Iliesa in a nightclub. He is seven years older and already had a child. Iliesa had been through a Salvation Army rehabilitation programme for ex-prisoners and was working as a nightclub bouncer. I thank God for this man who accepted me and my unborn child.
I thought we would have a good family life, but Iliesa’s drinking and drug taking was bad. I knew God was still with me, and prayed for a happy family. I wanted another husband, but God gave me the same man but a changed man. Iliesa returned to The Salvation Army and became a soldier (church member). Later, I was enrolled as a soldier also.
Iliesa is a big man with a soft heart. He became an envoy, working for The Salvation Army at Nasinu. Then we moved to Suva Central where he was corps assistant. I was working as a housekeeper in the Fiji School of Nursing. Iliesa was a good Christian, but I was so stubborn.
I got sick for two weeks—a mixture of anaemia and demon possession. I could not sleep, so family friends from The Salvation Army came and prayed for me, and I was delivered and healed. After this, I fully surrendered my life to God.
God called me to become a Salvation Army officer (minister) through the Scripture that says the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Iliesa and I were commissioned as officers in 1995, serving as managers for a boys hostel, corps officers (pastors) and also on the training college staff.
In 2010, we were appointed divisional leaders. I come from a chiefly family, so within Fiji culture it is perhaps easier for me to be a woman leader. But at first, it was as if I was just the companion, tagging along. Then I realised I am not only Iliesa’s wife and companion, I am fulfilling God’s purpose in my life: to be a co–labourer in his vineyard.
I enjoy visiting our Salvation Army people, hearing their stories and encouraging them. I am humbled to witness the extending of God’s Kingdom through the lives of our faithful and committed officers and soldiers.
The Salvation Army in Fiji is like a bird with two wings: we respond to spiritual and physical needs. We do not discriminate, welcoming people of any race and religion. When we do things, we do not advertise, we work in gentle ways. We put God’s Word into action. We do not just say God is love, we show this is true.
The most important thing in life is to know and action God’s plan and purpose. In ministry, it is to have a teachable spirit, a heart of obedience and humility.
By Litiana Cola (abridged from War Cry, 1 December 2012, p9)