Aigaletaule’ale’a F. Tauafiafi
The riots in Apia last weekend have challenged the role of the church in society.
Possible causes and a number of answers have unearthed with the village councils and the Police coming together to protect Samoa’s tranquility.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, the matai of Apia and Matautu and the Minister of Police, Sala Pinati all agree that to church plays a vital role in order to avoid riots and civil unrest.
Reverend Nu’uausala Siaosi Siutaia, of the Apia Protestant Church, agrees.
“This is our duty, this is our work,” he said.
It’s not about getting people to go to church.
“It’s about getting people to be re-born in the church.
We can, preach and preach and preach but many times we don’t have the effect. It’s from within the person because as Paul said, ‘whoever is in Christ is reborn’.”
That’s where the answer lies and where the church needs to work, he said.
“This is it. If we fail, we are failing to produce new people for the kingdom. We should not be after church-going people because it does not necessarily mean you’re in the kingdom. That’s where my vision is.
The solution has everything to do with us, Ministers of the cloth.”
The PM Tuilaepa has said the church needs to step up to the plate.
“Church ministers need to remind and advise parents of their roles because there are times when parents lapse in their role. So when their children are involved in something like what happened and police arrest their children then they realized they haven’t done their parental duty.”
Tuilaepa added that the Government is being proactive to keep peace and order in Samoa through a couple of initiatives.
First is the increase in the number of police outposts.
“We have new ones in Afega and in Savai’i.”
He confirmed their effectiveness with the police post at Vaitele reducing the number of incidents in the neighbourhood in which he resides.
Second is increasing the number of colleges in the rural areas.
Graduating rural senior secondary schools to colleges is important “as it keeps students in their constituency and under the supervision of parents and villages. And that means they don’t come to the main centres and beyond that window of control.”
He expects a reduction in the type of school violence that briefly erupted last month as a result.
The government target is “twenty-five colleges by the beginning of next year that includes Falealili, Aleipata and also Savai’i.”
Deep in the c
entre of last weekend’s riots is Reverend Nu’uausala.
So far, the cause of the riots is still being investigated by police.
But one report says it started from a small fight between Apia and Matautu youths that escalated with the influence of parents over the two days.
The riots left physical scars on his church and emotional and spiritual wounds on the man.
But from the pain he’s come out swinging.
“In many ways we thank God for the improvements in development, our way of living and so forth but unfortunately it also develops and bring bad thing.
“And that’s a big concern”, he said.
He calls it a paradigm shift of development and Samoa is suffering its consequences.
“Because the availability of news and media and all these things have an effect through what we see and what we hear. And our youths copy and increase those bad habits coming through.”
But his main issue is with alcohol.
“In my personal view alcohol the cause. I wish the night clubs can be taken away and there are counseling services available to the people who cannot handle their liquor – this is a national problem.”
I wish said Rev. Nuuausala, “there’s a way to ban alcohol. I know it’s a bad word for those who love their beer because its something where they go to enjoy and relax but if it becomes a root of evil then where should our responsibility and priorities lie?
“Is it right to let that evil roam and be at risk to abusers? Should we let them drink to beyond their control and do nothing?”
The effect of alcohol he says paralyses, “your system, your way of thinking, your sense of balance, of morals. It’s physiological so if you drink alcohol and get drunk those are the impacts.
“But it’s the individual that is affected who inside, has the will to respond positively.”
He said for people who switch to something wild because of alcohol or drugs, “Messiah is in you and can help give them control and counter the physiological effects of the evil.”
Drugs, he said is also another key cause for the deteriorating moral fibre of youths today.
That was apparent when the church he said was deliberately attacked.
“The respect our forefathers is eroded that things supposed to be sacred. And that’s a reason for great sadness.”
The solution he said, “All of us were born with the same good and bad things in us. But its from within us where the solution is found.
“I know that because there are Reverends in the church who came from that background of gangs, drugs and so forth. And they know what happened and they know where they are now. To me that’s the only hope.”
If people know inside that they are doing something wrong then they steer away.
That’s what happened in countries where there have been a revival said Rev. Nuuausala.
“In Wales and certain parts of Europe people do not go to night clubs they no longer gambled because their lives have been changed when they have Christ in them.
“It boils down to us the church. This is our duty, this is our work.”