President Russell Marion Nelson is not the first leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to grace Samoa with their presence.
He is the third in the series of country calls made by a serving head of the church.
The church leader’s arrival yesterday and devotional service last night was brief but easily the biggest for the members of the faith who awaited with excited anticipation the visit.
President Nelson holds the blessed role of a Prophet in the faith. The blessings he brought with him went beyond the LDS church followers to all of Samoa.
“ The prophet is coming to bring blessings to Samoa,” Rev. Ma’auga Motu announced as General Secretary of the National Council Of Churches, after learning of the visit.
Samoa is indeed a blessed country. The more blessings the better.
The recent massacre of Muslims while in prayer in New Zealand is the most recent and closest example of religious violence that left us in shock.
It also prompted Rev. Ma’auga to be grateful for the religious harmony we are blessed with in Samoa.
All over the regions of the world innocent people are killed for their faith and religious beliefs.
Here in Samoa the worst religious tensions we can look back on are ‘faifeau’ who refused to pay income taxes.
Even while the controversy continues to simmer, there are hardly any sinister threats looming of violent conflicts for the country to worry about on this particular issue.
Samoa is a Christian country but we have Muslims worshiping freely and without fear. There are Baha’i’s as well who have even built a temple up the hills.
Samoa was once a wild place with village fighting seemingly going on everywhere until the missionaries came and brought Christianity.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints, among other late comers, have added more variations into the teachings of Christianity, and have established their own following in Samoa.
Underway at the moment is the annual ‘Malua Fono Tele’ as the annual general assembly of the EFKS Church, the largest religious denomination in the country.
The agenda is for the church but contribution to the care of everyone taking part is by everyone, not just the EFKS followers.
This is where the peace and stability Samoa is blessed with comes from. What we have is a blend of religion and culture that marries the two most influential forces in the lives of Samoans.
The level of religious tolerance we are eternally grateful for is determined by the cultural ties that Christianity influenced so well, to maintain a union of harmony.
The shock of the NZ Muslim attack was magnified because it happened in a country where religious tolerance was also supposed to be high.
What that says is that we cannot afford to be complacent. We have to always remain alert to the risks that are ever present – it may not come from inside but as in the case of New Zealand from the outside.
We have to continue to work on our social and religious unity. Rare visits by respected leaders of the religious world are indeed a blessing for Samoa.
Thank you for the blessings President Nelson. May you continue to spread peace and goodwill wherever in the world your mission takes you.