Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (July 27) - For Methodists in Fiji and Rotuma, the Reverend Doctor Jione Langi during his short term as president set a clear direction for the church to follow.

He, in particular, emphasized the importance of the church staying away from politics, strengthening its mission to spread the gospel, re-building its commitment to teaching people about important moral values and promoting national unity and peaceful co-existence.

Langi, since rising to the top echelon of the church's administration in 2001, showed strong leadership qualities, a sense of justice and humility. He was a tireless worker who tried hard to ensure the country's largest Christian denomination was true to the faith.

As Methodists farewell him today at his funeral service in Suva and later at the burial grounds in Davuilevu, they can be comforted by the fact that he was convinced his vision for the church, as confided to a close friend before he passed away, would serve not only the members but the nation as a whole.

He shared the vision of involving the church more in the role of peacekeeping because it is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He saw this as extremely important in a divided society such as ours.

At a time when there is mounting pressure on church leaders to take a more active role in promoting reconciliation, unity and goodwill among the people, Langi urged his church ministers to lead by example.

He was also determined that the church would not be used as a tool by some politicians who wanted to promote their own ideologies and political convictions.

Langi set very high leadership standards.

He said leaders should be God-fearing, exemplifying God's laws in their lives, have clear purpose, have deep commitments towards national goals and objectives, be motivated by love and service to the people, be patient and consistent, conciliatory, gentle and obedient and command the respect of others, including their adversaries.

Perhaps that sums up the life of Langi. He practiced the very qualities that he firmly believed a good leader, whether in the church, Government or a group, should possess.

Towards the end of his reign, he encountered challenges to his leadership style from within the ranks but was determined to carry out his responsibilities to the best of his ability.

He has left behind a big challenge for Methodists to take up.

He has also set the direction for the church. What is left for the church its leaders and members are to complete the mission he started.

July 28, 2005

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