Sauileoge Pouli Jr won the Pacific Theological College Prize for Overall Academic Excellence for the Master’s Programme.
The thirty-seven year old from American Samoa shed tears of joy with his wife Liai Pouli as he received the award from the PTC Principal Rev. Professor. Dr Upolu Vaai at the College’s 53rd graduation ceremony.
Sauileoge and Liai Pouli with their children arrived at PTC in 2019.
Sau, as he is well known, was once a lay preacher in American Samoa.
He believes lay preachers perform vital roles as the minister’s helpers and are a robust network.
‘Where you go across the Pacific, you may not find a church minister, but you will find a lay preacher,’ Sau said.
They help members of the communities with their spiritual needs. They also promote social reformation and cohesion.
But if they are not grounded in theological and pastoral counselling training, Sau believes lay preachers can be destructive forces of change in the community.
He explored the dynamics of the lay preacher in his thesis for his Master of Theology with Distinction in Church Ministry.
‘I want to help lay preachers, and this is one of my biggest motivations for coming to PTC,’ he said.
He said,’ We are here to serve the Lord and not use our position as church elders or leaders, for our own glory.’
‘Wherever we are, in every village or community, we must serve and be enablers of peace, healing and change.’
He plans to assist with the setup of education programmes for lay preachers across Samoa.