On a sunny August morning, I was prayerfully contemplating, as usual, on creative ways and means of witnessing to the community at large and giving more publicity to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei. All of a sudden, in Cornelius fashion, there was a knock on the door. There stood a lady posed to hand-deliver a letter from the Micronesia Clean Up Day Planning Committee. In this virtual age of emails and other super-fast systems of communication, this letter was hand-carried to my doorstep. I took this as a cue that God wanted us to prioritize this item.
The concept of an annual Micronesia Clean Up Day was a major outcome of the 24th Micronesia Islands Forum Assembly held in Chuuk last year, which addressed the 2019 dengue fever epidemic in the Pacific region that included some of the Micronesian islands. The letter I received was an invitation for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei to join hands with other sectors to implement this crucial annual event.
Performing community clean up service as a public witnessing tool was nothing new either to me or our churches. I had already been joining our Kolonia church's Women’s Ministries group in cleaning up the causeway to the airport every first and third Sunday of the month. We have been doing this with the knowledge and approval of the State Governor’s Office. Here was another wonderful opportunity to extend our ministry even further.
So, for several Sabbaths, I sent out announcements appealing to all our churches to plan to participate in the Clean Up Day program which was slated for Sunday, September 13. Every one of our churches on this island came forward with willing hearts and ready hands to proudly tell the world what we believe about our Christian responsibility to clean, beautify, and protect God’s marvelous creation. I had earlier written to the planning committee that “the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that God entrusts us with responsibility for our world and our fellow humans. We believe in the Creation story exactly as it is recorded in the Bible. Therefore, the environment is God's gift to us and it is our Christian duty to do all we can for its protection by God's grace. This is one of our church's fundamental beliefs.”
Our volunteers included the elderly, adults, youth, teenagers, and children. Church members divided themselves into groups and went in different directions picking up trash, moving garbage, and clearing brush along roads, sidewalks, and byways. Starting at 6 am, the volunteers worked for three hours until the pickup truck was loaded full with trash and garbage bags.
One of the government committee members wrote back, “Thank you very much for the support and willingness in keeping our beautiful island clean. We need more groups like yours to safeguard our island. I hope that in the future we can still coordinate such events to help keep our island home safe and clean for the future generations.” I replied, “We look forward to providing any support we are able to give in the future because, according to the Bible, it is our Christian duty to do all we can for the cleanliness and protection of the environment which God has created and provided for the happiness of His children.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei does not have much financial resources. But our philosophy has always been to “do what we can with what we have for Jesus.” Trash bags and gloves were provided free by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Generous church members brought their own home tools for outdoor cleaning. Transportation was provided by Pohnpei SDA School. Hospitable believers hosted a simple breakfast for the participants. Did we do what we could do with what we had for Jesus? I believe so. Gratefully acknowledging our church’s participation, one of the committee members emailed me: “It is my prayer that such actions will inspire others to follow suit.” This is our prayer as well.