There are many reasons Pastor Leinamau Seru cried as her name was called out to receive her Masters in Theology and Ethics award and to be recognised as one of top students of her lot.
The night before, she received the Jean Bell Prize for Leadership and Example for her work as a student and member of the Pacific Theological College Community.
It seemed like the sun was finally shining lifting the deep, dark clouds of rain that only the loss of a loved one can bring.
A few weeks earlier, Leinamau had to be leave suddenly for Vanuatu, to be at her grievously ill mother’s bedside.
Her profound sense of loss also stemmed from feelings of guilt about not being able to care for her mother because she was away at school.
The quietly spoken woman with a genial demeanour said;
‘My mother was my greatest supporter, she wanted me to serve in the Kingdom of God,’ Pastor Leinamau related.
Congratulations came from far and wide and especially from members of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV).
General Secretary of PCV Pastor Allen Nafuki hailed as the first female in the church to receive top academic honours at PTC.
‘We are so happy with Pastor Leinamau’s perseverance and resolve in completing her thesis even during challenging times,’ said Pastor Nafuki.
The thesis titled ‘Looking at God’s Image and Likeness through the Cultural Lens of Fakaolia to Re-Image the Woman as a Theological Response to Domestic Violence in Vanuatu,’ focuses attention on the nature and prevalence of domestic violence in Vanuatu.
‘Fakaolia’ means image in Pastor Leinamau’s local dialect. The ‘woman’ being argues Pastor Leinamau needs to be re-imaged using the communal and relational concept of love and caring.
A concept that is symbolic of God, who as both father and mother of humanity, created and blessed ‘woman.’
Looking at woman through this lens means acknowledging that though ‘woman’ is the fairer, weaker sex, she is not less because she is God’s creation.
This means she must not be abused or treated with disrespect.