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Asetoa Eddie Pilisi

1965-1966 / NZBTI Diploma (Henderson Campus)

Eddie was born and raised in Niue. He became a school teacher, and taught for four years in Niue. Although a regular church attender, it was only when listening to a Welsh missionary that God’s plan of salvation dawned on him. He later wrote, “I was shocked to realise that church-going and such activities were not enough. I needed reality more than just empty religion and cold churchianity”. [1]

Later, in his application to the Bible Training Institute he wrote of a growing conviction that God was calling him into full-time ministry. Despite his excuses, “deep down in my own heart I know that I will never be happy until I obey His call for me. The need of my own people for the Saviour is just tremendous.”

In July 1961 he came to New Zealand, aged 21, with the aim of training for ministry. He completed night classes at Seddon Memorial Tech and worked as a machinist, while also getting involved in the ministry of the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle – leading in Boys Brigade, Youth Group, lay preaching, and in evangelism through Youth For Christ and Open Air Campaigners.

He was only the second Niuean to study at BTI when he arrived in 1965. During his years at BTI he was also Secretary for the Floating Christian Endeavour which focused on inviting sailors from ships berthed in Auckland to gospel services. Upon his graduation, and marriage to fellow Niuean Janet Siakimotu, Eddie began work as a salesman and in 1968 got involved in running Sunday School classes and youth group meetings at the newly-established Pacific Gospel Mission (PGM) – a mission situated in Ponsonby and started by a Canadian missionary, Rev. Herb Risto. The mission was begun with the aim of winning the growing population of Pacific Islanders in Auckland, and beyond, to Christ. Eddie was involved in that church for the remainder of his life, including pastoring the church from the early 1980s until 2003.

In the mid-1970s Eddie stopped working and began serving God full-time. It was a venture of faith, with five children to support (and later two adopted children) and a mortgage to pay. His evangelistic ministry included Auckland-wide witnessing, preaching the Gospel over Access Radio to both Niuean and English-speaking listeners, Bible in Schools, and speaking at camps, churches, and youth rallies. In 1979, the family spent a year in Niue, witnessing through Bible teaching in schools and churches.

Eddie and Jan joined Action International Ministries in 1988 as NZ-based missionaries with Eddie serving as a Field Officer, mentoring and training pastors while continuing with outreach and his pastoral ministry at PGM. They remained with Action International Ministries for almost 20 years, mostly based in NZ but with teaching stints back in Niue and other Pacific Islands, and short mission trips to the Philippines and Singapore.

Writing about his experiences for the Reaper magazine in 1979, Eddie testified that the verse “My God shall supply all your needs” was true and that “God has never let me down”. He went on to write:

There have been many blessings in mission work, namely the joy of winning souls saved by the grace of God. On the other hand, all has not been smooth sailing. There are times the enemy would discourage, but praise be to God. He remains faithful. [2]

Eddie died from liver cancer on 11 July 2015, a week after his 75th birthday. His death notice testified to a much-loved husband, father and grandfather, and “a supportive friend, dedicated leader, comedian, and inspirational mentor to many.”

[1] “Profile of a Graduate”, Reaper, 59/2 (March 1979), 38-39.

[2] ibid, 39.

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