*A Leader for the Times*
Reverend Leslie Vedoko from the United Church of Solomon Islands (UCSI) first came to the Pacific Theological College in 2009.
He came to study for his Bachelor of Divinity on a Methodist Church of United Kingdom scholarship. It wasn’t easy for the man from Vella Lavella island in the Western Province. He struggled with English, but he was determined to succeed. And with the help of lecturers and fellow students, he did.
In 2011, Rev. Vedoko graduated as a proud man. He returned to PTC in 2018 for his Master in Theology in Church Ministry. English was still a challenge, and the rigors of higher-level learning seemed like a big mountain to climb.
But it was all worth it when he received his Master’s degree in 2019, joining the ranks of UCSI church leaders that studied at PTC.
“PTC is really producing good leaders in our churches. Some of these include our Moderator, the head of our theological seminary and faculty,” Rev. Vedoko said.
“The best thing about studying at PTC is the contextual theology – we apply scriptures to the context or where we are today,” he added.
That plus the awakening of a spirit of activism, especially against injustices that harm people.
Rev. Vedoko is the superintendent minister for the UCSI Honiara circuit.
His pastoral work covers the heart of the capital of the Solomon Islands and the heart of social issues that range from drug abuse and mental health problems to the devastation of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“And that is where the contextual learning is really helping me as a leader to work with church members addressing the issues we face today,” he said.
“My field of study (church ministry) is beneficial because it deals with issues that mainly affect our church members,” he added.
Earlier this year, Rev. Vedoko, like other church leaders in Honiara, responded to a call for help from Government for churches to help fight the NCD crisis.
“We sent church members to attend the workshops with the government and have begun the campaign in our church,” he said.
“Through bible studies on NCDs, sermons, and group fellowships, we let our church members know about the NCD crisis,” said Rev. Vedoko.
“NCD is destroying many lives, but many don’t even know what it is,” he added.
“We remind them the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are responsible for looking after ourselves and exercising good self-stewardship.”
“We regularly urge them to take care of their body and be selective about their food.”