Approaching the boat landing of the fishing village on Viwa Island off the coast of Suva, Fiji, it is hard to imagine a more idyllic setting than this South Pacific paradise filled with one stunning island view after another.
On the hillside overlooking the village sits a memorial church dedicated to the memory of a Methodist translator, John Hunt, who translated the Bible from Greek into Fijian more than 150 years ago and who still is revered by the villagers.
In the evening dusk the chapel glows like a beacon across the water. Nestled on the lush slopes leading down to the shore are the homes of the 110 hearty souls who call Viwa home.
It is here in late May that a four-person World Council of Churches (WCC) Living Letters delegation were hosted by the villagers of Viwa who shared with the group their growing concerns in regard to how the shifting global climate and rising sea levels from melting polar ice packs are impacting this small community.
The island itself is small, taking the delegation no more than 15-20 minutes to circumnavigate in an eight-seater boat with an outboard motor. Climatic changes far from here are having an impact on places such as this, and that is why the Living Letters came to listen and show solidarity with the community.
The WCC Living Letters are small ecumenical teams that visit a country to listen, learn and examine approaches to problems and help confront challenges in order to overcome violence and promote peace. In the context of Fiji, the group was exploring how violence against nature through CO2 emissions, land misuse, pollution and other development and lifestyle issues have impact on the world’s climate. In addition to spending 24 hours on Viwa, the team also met with church and government leaders in Suva, the capital of Fiji.