Bishop Api, Fiji “Like every indigenous Fijian, I derive my identity and sense of belonging from
the vanua (land). Today, the land to which I belong is in crisis. The source of my identity is threatened by the immense changes being brought about by climate change. The seas rise a little more every year, and more frequent, more deadly, and more extreme weather events are occurring. We are working to safeguard a future that is not ours, but our children’s. If we are of one mind, one heart, and one spirit, we can challenge leaders and decision-makers to work effectively to end the calamity that surely awaits us if we continue blindly down this road.”
Lament As we enter the Lenten season, reflect on the great lament of creation and those who share it. Pray with people around the world: Creator, open my heart to the pain of your creation.
We lament the destruction of God’s creation and the pain it causes. The archipelago of Fiji is a stark example of how harming creation harms to the human family.
Fiji is particularly exposed to the effects of climate change. As a group of low-lying islands, it is vulnerable to the sea level rise that is associated with a warmer world. The rising seas bring salt water into farm lands, disrupting agriculture. Higher seas and storm surges also bring floods, and families find themselves pushed out of their homes.
Because of these vulnerabilities, the entire Fijian village of Vunidogoloa has already been relocated. The nation is bracing for further mass movement, and has created a legal designation of “climate refugee” to accommodate the expected wave of internal migrants.
Despite the uncertainty they face, the people of Fiji have opened their arms to neighbors who are at even greater risk. The people of the nearby nation of Kiribati have purchased 20 sq km of land in Fiji. They have planned to relocate their entire nation when climate change renders their land unlivable.
Even as we lament the loss of land and lifeways in Fiji, we give thanks for the grace and warmth of the Fijians, and for the grace of God who always welcomes our repentance.
We invite you to lament. Reflect on what it would feel like to lose your home and be forced to leave your country. Pray for all climate refugees.
“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!” (Lam. 1:1)
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22–23)