It was wonderful to see so many people at the Vodafone FBCL Concert of Hope in Suva's Albert Park on Saturday. Fiji TV's support of the event also made it possible for those who were in the flood affected areas (with electricity and working television sets) to see and listen to the music but also see the display of solidarity for them. The $89,000 raised will go a long way to helping rebuild the lives all but washed away in the floods.
My week has been darkened by the death of two father-figures in my life. On Saturday I heard the news of the untimely death of the acting Director of Information, Alipate Mateitoga, who during his time as head of the Ministry of Information's Film and TV Unit was not just a pioneer in television in Fiji but also a mentor to many of the men and women in the fledgling television industry. On Monday evening, my uncle and former CEO/General Manager of Morris Hedstrom, Narendra Bhagwan passed away after a short illness. I will pay tribute to these two small giants among men in my column next week.
This week, with schools forced to start, despite many being damaged by floods, being evacuation centres and many children still without homes, food and even water, the academic year is finally underway. On Monday morning I preached at the dedication service for the teachers and staff for the Methodist Schools in Toorak – Annesley and Suva Methodist Primary Schools and Dudley Intermediate and High Schools. Preaching from the story of Jesus and the little children (Matthew 19:13-15) I urged the teachers to remain focussed on the needs of the children.
To illustrate my point I shared with them a well known story of how small seeds when planted and nurtured can grow to become a huge forest.
It is the story of Elzéard Bouffier, a 55-year-old widower who lived in a French village in 1910, surrounded by poverty and despair. So he did something; he collected thousands of acorns and planted them throughout the area. When they took root, he cultivated beeches. When they become saplings, he planted birches. One day, amidst the death and devastation of World War I, a mysterious grey mist appeared on the horizon. It was the oaks of 1910, below them the adolescent beeches, and below them the tiny birch seedlings. Bouffier kept planting, and at the end of World War II, French environmentalists announced that a "natural forest" had "mysteriously" sprung up, flourishing amidst its barren surroundings. But the story doesn't end there; his forest started a chain reaction. Water flowed in brooks that had dried up. The wind scattered seeds, and willows, rushes, meadows and gardens sprang up. New people came to live there, bringing with them hope and prosperity. Elzéard Bouffier found acorns, planted them, and God did the rest.
I received a similar story about seeds from Maria Koto of Nadi,who is a regular reader of this column. This particular one is about sowing the seed of integrity:
A successful Christian business man was growing old and knew it was time to
choose a successor to take over the business.
Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do
something different. He called all the young executives in his company
He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have
decided to choose one of you." The young executives were shocked, but the
boss continued. "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very
special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here
one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.
I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be
the next CEO."
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a
seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story.
She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed.
Everyday he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.
After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about
their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking
his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went
by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim
didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by - still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed
his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim
didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and
fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought
their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't
going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what
happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach, it was going to be the most
embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took
his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the
variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful - in
all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his
colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.
Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and
flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed
the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room
with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the
front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe
he will have me fired!" When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what
had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.
The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then
announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive! His
name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.
How could he be the new CEO the others said?
Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed.
I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me
But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for
them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and
When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed
for the one I gave you.. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty
to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be
the new Chief Executive!"
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
Two thousand years ago Paul wrote to the church at Galatia the same story
but with fewer words, "What you sow, so shall you reap". (Gal. 6:7)
We are grass that will wither and die but the incorruptible seed of Gods
Word will live forever - sow it daily into the life of your family! (1 Peter
1: 23 - 25)
May the rest of your week be blessed with love, light and peace.