“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
– John 20:29
By Vincent Gewert
This quote appears at the very end of the book of John, after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus reveals himself to all of his disciples, causing great astonishment and joy. Thomas, however, is not there, and finds himself unable to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. Only when Jesus is revealing his wounds from the cross to Thomas, he also comes to believe, thus triggering the quote above.
But how is this quote related to our journey at PTC? I want to explain why my experiences at PTC have made these words of such special importance to me.
When I arrived at PTC in August 2018 to live and work there as a volunteer for a year, I knew little about Pacific cultures and societies. Despite the training I had been given in Germany, I still had not experienced life in an intercultural community like PTC, and therefore there was much to learn. In the course of my year spent in Fiji, mingling around with the Youth, learning the practices and values, adapting and reshaping has mostly been exciting and fun – but sometimes also tough. And yet, there is one key value that I personally have found to be crucial for these kinds of intercultural learning: faith. Faith, after all, is the very thing Jesus has wished for his disciples to have: It means to believe and trust in something without having visible evidence for its success.
Faith in God, in his guidance on all of our ways, and thus trust in our fellow community members that it will be a journey of harmony and support have been crucial for me during my time at PTC. Especially in the moments when I was struggling or lacking a vision how to continue, it has been faith in God and God’s people that allowed me to move on. Learning from each other – by sharing stories, working together or just sharing lunch – and thus gaining more and more understanding’s for one’s background has been one of my favourite parts of my time at PTC, and having faith in God to silently direct us through conflict and peace has been vital for this.
However, faith has not only helped me live in an intercultural community. It also helps with one of my biggest passions, the protection of our environment. Sometimes it might look like a fight already lost, a fight against odds to bad to overpower, and yet faith always causes me not to lose hope.
Seeing how Pacific people do not silently accept a fate apparently thrown upon them has always motivated me to continue my fight against destruction, depletion, and negligence of God’s creation as well. I was inspired a lot by our continuous efforts over the course of this year to start at our own doorstep and help protect the planet ourselves, in our community. But without faith in each other, faith in our local and the larger global community, the fight would already be lost – because no one would move.
Of course I have also enjoyed and loved a great deal of other amazing things at PTC. I loved playing volleyball or rugby with the Youth, loved learning new Pacific dances for our feasts, I was excited about every single letter one of the children in kindergarten would learn how to write from me, and I was looking forward to every morning devotion we spent together. The list is definitely too long to name everything I have enjoyed while at PTC. But for me, it is also all part of the same dream.
A dream of a world in which everyone can meet each other without prejudice, without hate, but with respect and acceptance for our different backgrounds and personalities. Where people live and work together, in search for harmony and peace, where not only people, but also nature, our living Earth, is protected and cared for. A dream of God’s kingdom on Earth, in which we can all believe and thus make it happen – even if we have not seen it yet.