ALL PACIFIC ARISE TIMELINE
1946 (September 6): Michael Maeliau was born in the village of Dodaia in the To’abaita speaking region, with descent from the local Baleafoa lineage and the Gwalu’masu lineage of the Baelalea speaking group.
1958: In order to attend school, at the age of twelve he moved to his grandmother in the nearby village of Suidara, close to Malu’u School in the To’abaita speaking region.
1963: Maeliau attended the King George VI Secondary School in Honiara. He was expelled from the school in 1965 for organizing a strike to expel one of the teachers.
1966: Maeliau joined the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force but resigned after a year because he wanted to join the ministry of his church.
1974: Maeliau graduated with a college diploma from the Bible College of New Zealand (BCNZ, now the Laidlaw College) in Auckland and, in the same year, with a Diploma in Divinity from the Melbourne College of Divinity.
1975: Maeliau married Martha Safina Atomea and took up a lecturer position at the Christian Leaders’ Training College (CLTC) in Papua New Guinea. Whilst lecturing he took up Arts courses at the University of Papua New Guinea.
1976-1983: Maeliau served as the President of the Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific.
1979-1980: Maeliau received his first revelation during two Catherine Easter Conventions in the Northern Territories, Australia. He reported that God revealed to him that First Nations of Australia would lead spiritually. This marked the beginning of the “lead-up to the battle.”
1980: Maeliau graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Papua New Guinea.
1983: Maeliau attended the Billy Graham conference for Evangelists in Amsterdam. From then on, “the conceptual years” began.
1984: Maeliau received the first vision on the Latter Rain Revival on Earth during the first World Prayer Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. Back in Solomon Islands, he received a vision on a cloud above Solomon Islands bringing about the latter rain.
1984: On a flight across Australia, while visiting the continent for a gathering of First Nations’ leaders, Maeliau learned from God that the desert underneath him had produced its own Moseses and David.
1985-1986. Maeliau received more revelations during visits to Wagga Wagga and Mapleton (during a Baptists Leaders’ Retreat), and Bundaberg. In Bundaberg he learned that the mandate for the SSEC was the ‘“Dish and Towel’, a servant of servants” and that Solomon Islands was “the Joseph of the South Pacific.”
1986: Maeliau received the so-called “Deep Sea Canoe Vision” during a Church Elder’s prayer meeting in Honiara. This vision heralded The Move of the Glory of the Lord (later APA).
1987: Pastor Tom Hess established the Jerusalem House on the Mount of Olives for “watchman” from all over the world to maintain a continual twenty-four-hour prayer. Maeliau, as the representative for Solomon Islands, joined the movement from the early 1990s onwards.
1989 (December): Key evangelical leaders Oswald Sanders, John Hitchen, and Joshua Daimoi, among others, gathered in Suva, Fiji for the first Pacific Mission Consultation. Especially the Melanesian churches advocated for an inversion of the mission.
1990s: Labelled by Maeliau as “the formative years,” this was a period during which the South Pacific Prayer Assembly (as APPA was then named) engaged ever more confidently with prayer mountains (see below) and the organisation of South Pacific Prayer Assemblies in the region.
1992: The South Pacific Prayer Assembly (SPPA) was established.
1996: Pastor Tom Hess visited Brisbane and Honiara where Maeliau took him to a prayer mountain. Maeliau began to attend Hess’ yearly All Nations Convocation in Jerusalem.
1993-1997: Maeliau founded and lead the political party called the Christian Leadership and Fellowship Group. For about one-and-a-half years, Maeliau acted as Minister of Home Affairs and subsequently Minister of Commerce under Prime Minister Francis Billy Hilly (1993-1994).
1997: Maeliau was rewarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the church, the community and politics.
1998–2003: Armed conflict, lawlessness and disorder gripped Solomon Islands, prompting Maeliau to call for increased sovereignty of Malaita and the establishment of a theocracy.
2000: The tenth anniversary of the South Pacific Prayer Assembly was celebrated, and, following a call in 1998 in Jerusalem, Maeliau offered Solomon Islands to the King of Jerusalem. In September, Maeliau climbed Uluru to urge Jesus to come.
2003 (August): Maeliau received several revelations on the Glory of the Lord while in Papua New Guinea. The movement was renamed to All Pacific Prayer Assembly (APPA).
2003 (August): In the Solomon Islands, Maeliau introduced a gun amnesty provision to end a conflict and three days earlier, on August 17, he had received a revelation that the prophecy about the coming of the Captain had been fulfilled.
2004: During a “24/7 Prayer Conference” in Canberra, Maeliau was ordered by God to enter Parliament House to ask Jesus to assume power over Australia, to smash the country’s Babylonian system, and to withdraw all traces of that system in the countries to which it has been exported.
2005 (February): Maeliau attended the All Nations Convocation in Singapore where God revealed to him that Australia would go to Jerusalem through the Bethany Gate.
2005 (April): Maeliau participated in the Third All Pacific Prayer Assembly in Auckland.
2006: Maeliau stood as an independent candidate for the elections for the national parliament. His program of reform promised a God-fearing and non-corrupt government, but his electoral campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.
2007 (July 7): During a church eldership meeting in Auki, Malaita, on Solomon Island’s 29th Independence Day, God revealed that the move of the Glory of the Lord would touch down in Jerusalem after ten years.
2009: The APPA broke away from the South Sea Evangelical Church. The Church decided to defrock Maeliau.
2010: Over the course of the year Maeliau received a succession of manifestations and messages from Jesus. The movement changed its name to All Peoples Prayer Assembly (APPA).
2015 (December 25): Maeliau received the message that the Government of Solomon Islands was on Jesus’ shoulders (Isaiah 9: 6,7) and further messages on the restoration of sovereignty at five levels (God, state, ethnic group, tribe, family, and person).
2016 (September 6): On Maeliau’s birthday, evangelist Peter Kama, who was in Papua New Guinea for “covenant celebrations,” received a divine message announcing Maeliau’s status as a prophet.
2017 (October): Maeliau attended the Welcome of the King of Glory into Jerusalem meeting in Bethlehem during the Feast of Tabernacles.
2018: The movement changed its name to All Pacific Arise (APA).
2019 (September): Maeliau joined a prayer gathering on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.
2019 (December): Maeliau joined a gathering of the APA Jerusalem Council in Israel for the last time in his life.
2021 (October 14): After being hospitalized with diabetes in Malu’u, Maeliau died.
2022 (October): There was a major celebration of the 30th Anniversary of APA and Feast of Tabernacles in the Maranatha Hall in Honiara.
The All Pacific Arise (APA) is an evangelical millenarian movement that appeared in the To’abaita and Baelalea speaking regions on the island of Malaita in the mid-1980s and has grown steadily to thousands of followers and an international network (Timmer 2015a, 2015b). The movement was built on a long tradition of revelation, revival, and ideas of autonomy in the South Sea Evangelical Church (SSEC) and its predecessor, the South Sea Evangelical Mission. The Mission has been active in the region since the early twentieth century and grew most strongly on the island of Malaita (Young 1925; Hilliard 1969; Moore 2009). It is the oldest traditional and most politically engaged church on the island (Akin 2013:28). APA emerged as an alternative to the SSEC’s traditional evangelical doctrine, especially with respect to its relegation of salvation to the future. In contrast, APA is open to the imminent presence of God, revelations, and pasts that include relations with ancestors. Following several conflicts over fundamental theological matters, APA broke away by invoking a black theology and a new constitution of society in 2005.
APA was founded by Reverend Michael Maeliau, [Image at right] and he continued to lead the movement as chief prophet until he passed away in October 2021 at the age of seventy-five. In the context of secondary conversions following a major charismatic revival in 1970 (Griffiths 1977), Maeliau began to receive divine revelations of a prophetic nature concerning the past, present, and future of Malaita. He became a prophet-leader, he began to speak on behalf of God while being in control of a movement. Prophets in the context of APA are understood as a convergence between prophets in the Hebrew culture of the Old Testament and a local tradition of “priests” responsible for communication with ancestors. They are manifestations of what Garry Trompf sees as a Melanesian prophetic tradition, “even when certain messages may be palpably syncretic … or heavily garbed in Christian vocabulary, they are mouthed by Melanesians in an indigenous, non-imitative manner” (1977:9).
Over a period of years, Maeliau lived out a new understanding of himself in a local yet intensely globally connected society, constructing a movement with strong links to Israel as well as to other eschatological movements around the globe. As prophet and theologian, Maeliau has used the 1970 revival to re-define Malaita as a Christian nation, presented as possessing certain key continuities with its past forms. Essentially, APA’s theology builds on the notion that the coming of Christ’s reign is expanded through the gift of the Holy Spirit in the last days (Acts 2:17) towards the ends of the earth (13:47), including to the divinely named Solomon Islands and its past rituals for communication with ancestors and God.
Maeliau’s ideal of prophecy and the use of apocalyptic texts has continued to resonate across the movement to ground an ancient local tradition of communication with ancestors and the Christian idea of liberation and advent to a Promised Land. The movement also has continued to attract people in other Pacific countries, most prominently in Papua New Guinea (Bougainville, Manus, and Port Moresby), and Vanuatu.
Driven by Baptist and Evangelical theological studies in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, a major revival on the island of Malaita in 1970 (Griffiths 1977), and a vision on the Glory of the Lord, Maeliau launched The Move of the Glory of the Lord in 1984. Maeliau completed a college diploma at the Bible College of New Zealand (BCNZ, now known as the Laidlaw College) in 1974 and in the same year obtained a diploma in divinity from the Melbourne College of Divinity. In 1975, soon after he married Martha Safina Atomea, he took up the position of lecturer at the Christian Leaders’ Training College (CLTC) in Banz, Papua New Guinea. From 1976 to 1983, Maeliau served as the President of the Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific. When Maeliau returned to Solomon Islands in the mid-1980s, he became an ordained Minister of the South Sea Evangelical Church and later President of that church.
Maeliau carried with him theological knowledge, an eye-witness account of revivals in Papua New Guinea, more detailed knowledge of local religious movements that emerged on Malaita since British rule, and international connections. Back home he began to self-consciously engage with his own society, seeking to effect its transformation. For the transformation of his society, he envisioned a new moral community founded on pre-Christian prophethood and the manifest presence of the Lord. It should become a holy group, that, united, worships the presence of God, experiences the eruptions of revelations, joins prayers and songs, and revitalizes the past in expectation of God’s divine intervention in their group.
Over several revelations and active constructions of a black theology, a wide variety of Genesis-like narratives emerged, extending into rapidly expanding horizons of the future and the past, also breathing new life into genealogies of Malaitan lineages. People began to construct temporal and spatial maps of deep-time and deep-space around genealogical trees adapted from the Old Testament in combination with local genealogical reckoning.
The interest in such “Hamitic” origins dates back at least to the 1960s, when the evangelical theology of Herbert W. Armstrong and its British and U.S. Israelism were broadcast in Solomon Islands, as well as by decades long ponderings about why their country is named Solomon Islands. Could islanders be Israelite too? This environment was pregnant with ontological questions. With the cup being full to the brim as it were, the 1970 revival was for many the last drop, but it still needed an authoritative voice. Here Maeliau came in as a broker between possible new pasts for Malaita, biblical and present-day Israel, and the future that will arrive with the end of time.
In early 1986, a group of elders of the SSEC met to consider starting a new congregation in one of the suburbs of Honiara. On the Day of Pentecost, during prayer time, Maeliau began to receive a vision from God. This end-time prophetic vision foretold the story of a massive wave that begins in Solomon Islands, travels around the globe, and ends up in Jerusalem. The vision begins with a valley that fills with crystal-clear (unpolluted) water, which develops into a flood and later becomes a cloud. The cloud travels to Australia and returns to Solomon Islands from where it goes eastward to all the nations in the South Pacific. As the cloud reaches Papua New Guinea, it changes into a three-pronged powerful current that heads eastward towards the west coast of the United States. When it arrives in the United States, the central current continues towards the east coast then turns around 180 degrees and develops into a mighty wave that eventually stretches from the North to the South Pole. The wave then rolls back and travels westward.
The wave is so great that it submerges all the nations in its path and is so high that it floods even Mount Everest. It covers everything in its path as it moves over the Pacific and Asia until a circle encompassing the globe is complete. With the completion of the circle, the wave zooms in on Jerusalem and shoots up into the heavens like a huge pillar. As it reaches high in the sky, it opens up like a huge mushroom that gradually spreads until it envelops the Earth. At this point, a voice comes out from the cloud, saying, “And the Glory of the Lord shall cover the Earth as the waters cover the sea.”
This vision inspired followers to reflect on the Sermon on the Mount (described in Matthew 5:7 and Luke 6:17-49; and See Acts 1:8) in which Jesus referred to the uttermost parts of the world as the geographical ends to which God’s word should be spread. For most evangelical Christians in Malaita, this vision has become the most significant aspect of the sermon. In Maeliau’s historical reflection on this vision, the Lord raised him up together with a prayer movement from Melanesia (Maeliau 2018b:4).
Several key themes of the movement emerged from the first Pacific Consultation in Fiji, December 1989. The meeting was attended by several evangelical leaders and at the occasion, the Melanesian churches advocated for an inversion of the mission. This inspired Maeliau to develop a theory around the role of Malaita as the uttermost part of the world from where the Word of God should be returned. At the same time, he began to work on theologies around the manifest presence of God, celestial warfare, revelation of the Glory of the Lord, the third great invasion, and the completion of the Great Commission (Maeliau 2006:21-22).
APA was also greatly inspired by theology developed around the ”Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations’ Worldwide Watch” prayer network, which was initiated in 1987 and run by U.S. Tom Hess from his base on the Mount of Olives. The Jerusalem House has operated a 24/7 prayer and worship practice with the aim to call all nations to Jerusalem to prepare for the full restoration of Israel following its “rebirth” as a nation in 1948 (Hess 2008:1-2). Following a number of contributions by Maeliau to Hess’s prayer meetings, Solomon Islands was allotted a Worldwide Watch mandate “to take up the dish and the towel, to be a servant of all (John 13) and to guide the return of the nations from the Pacific region through the Golden Gate” (Hess and Hess 2012:279).
The urgency of a new nation to ready the region for God’s plans also motivated Maeliau to become active in national politics. He founded and led the Christian Leadership and Fellowship Group from 1993 to 1997. The group did not want to be called a political party as members sought to discontinue corruption by bringing God-fearing leaders to parliament as a first step towards building a theocracy (Fugui and Wate 1994:458). In the May 1993 national elections, Maeliau won strongly among the Northwest Malaita constituency (Premdas and Steeves 1994:55). Under the newly elected Prime Minister, Francis Billy Hilly, he became Minister of Home Affairs. The Hilly government saw a need for a clean and “Jesus Government’’ (Alasia 1997:12) and emphasized decentralization and self-reliance of the regions. One way to achieve that was to strengthen the role of churches in governing rural societies (Fugui and Wate 1994:459-60). But efforts to destabilise the Hilly government emerged soon, and almost overnight it saw its majority evaporate in November 1994 (Moore 2004:57-58). In 2006, Maeliau stood as an independent candidate for the elections for the national parliament, but his electoral campaign failed to entice voters.
APA follows patterns of “cargo cults” in the region in the way it takes on the frameworks of Christianity, works on a transformative apocalyptic scenario, and is led by charismatic leaders with a training in the traditional church and theology (Landes 2011:132). But, as anthropologist Nancy McDowell points out, setting the analyses of such a movement in a global category of millenarian cargo cults, “distracts our attention away from the socio-cultural context in which they occur (1988:122).
Inspired by Hess’ House of Prayer, they key mandate for APA is fulfilling the King’s Great Commission of the Kingdom of God to All Nations (Isaiah 43:10-12, Acts 1:8). (Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations 2020). Maeliau sees this role appropriate for a Melanesian country where people feel “very small and intimated,” yet ready for “the Great Commission to take on the whole world” (2021:20). In a succinct historical reflection on how Melanesia became involved in world mission, Maeliau writes:
The Melanesian countries bore the brunt of the weight of the indebtedness of sharing the Gospel with the whole world because we are the uttermost parts of the Earth. We had and have been on the receiving end of God’s work up to this point in time, without an opportunity to be involved in World Missions. Even the Polynesians and the Micronesians have had a turn in evangelizing the Melanesian countries before us. Therefore, we in Melanesia felt very much like what the Apostle Paul must have felt when he said: “I am debtor both to the Greeks and the Barbarians: both to the wise and the unwise. Romans 1:14 KJV ” (Maeliau 2021:20).
Maeliau’s solace to geographical marginalization offered by taking up the King’s Great Commission at the ends of the earth, highlights a rendering of space (and time) that provides people a sense of liberation from colonially defined geographical confines – Melanesians are not debtors to the world of time, space and men, but are in their freedom to God.
In its freedom to God, APA has set itself two tasks. The first is the removal of sins and consequences of “irregularities” in known histories and genealogies. This includes the “straightening” of genealogies so as to limit them to male descendants only and excluding inconvenient migrants, leading to unilineal lines of begetting. Secondly, these straightened genealogies were, with some variety but constrained by the confluences of the Old Testament and local histories, extended to biblical worlds. By establishing historical relationships between Malaitan genealogies and ancestors in the Old Testament people and by mapping possible migration routes, people construct new histories to a ground a sense of Malaita’s original holiness.
These new histories inspire a new social and political order. In combination with the rhetorical reservoir of Christian scripture which is effective amid communities in Malaita, we can imagine how people like Maeliau can mobilize people to engage in a state-building effort in general. Maeliau’s revelations are thus also revolutions; they are tied to a mission of transforming the world, of world-making and of world-unfolding.
In brief, APA’s theology reflects a desire for justice now, through the mediation of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, APA has a non-western gospel. Its rituals attempt to cohere biblical history and prophecy with local tradition and connections with Israel. APA is constituted around the utopian idea of a just “Israel” grounded in the ancestral soil (Timmer 2015a). This grounding in Malaitan matter and its emphasis on moral excellence for readying the nation of Malaita for the return to Jerusalem, appears to stabilize the political community. And unlike traditional SSEC doctrine APA’s theology has continuously evolved, it is open, never complete, creative, and resisting doctrine.
APA participants often engage in prayer, [Image at right] and leading people often go on prayer journeys. In the region, many groups regularly stage non-stop, days-long prayer sessions in their villages or by coming together with others at designated locations for special programs, labeled Fathers Arise, Mothers Arise, Youth Arise and Leaders Arise. These local fellowships tend to attract hundreds of people. They go dressed in white and adhere to certain rules about purity. Convocations used to be organized under temporary leaf roofs put up at open spaces in the forests between villages in North Malaita, but since APA’s well-built Aroma Centre was established a few years ago, they are now mostly held there. Aroma is named after the Spice Route, which, according to Maeliau, is a possible route along which Hebrews populated the Pacific and along which they may return to Jerusalem. The center is also a teaching venue and caters for visits of foreign guests.
APA also engages in evangelical prayer gatherings anywhere in the world that are typically also attended by (North) American Indians, First Nation people from Australia, Māori from Aotearoa/New Zealand, and groups from Africa, South America, and Asia. The fellowships in Israel are in principle staged every year and are organized by and for APA’s Jerusalem Council, the Spiritual Eldership of the movement. In His royal throne-room, they praise their King and act as his official councilors and messengers. They act as witnesses, investigating detectives, and perhaps fellow judges (See Daniel 7: 9-14; Jeremiah 23: 18-22). Also reserved for those who have matured in the movement as elders, prayer and fasting sessions atop mountains are organized.
Payer mountain is central to the theology of APA. Prayer mountain conjures images that resonate with past functions of Malaitan rituals conducted at mountain top shrines as well as biblical narratives on mountain tops. APA’s theology builds on similarities that people see between Mosaic law and their kastom regulations. These similarities have stimulated ideas around the above-mentioned Hamitic origins for Malaitans and feeds into the ways in which they cultivate home ground. For neighboring Kwara’ae, Ben Burt (1982) notes that such histories result from a tradition of writing lawbooks and constitutions since at least the 1920s. Among To’abaita and Baelelea speakers too, people have been actively recording histories, mapping land and producing constitutions for lineages in light of mounting subversion of the powers of the ancestors and abu (taboo, sacred, holy, grace).
Abu is the governing principle for all relationships and the political power to which forces contribute. Abu is still present, just as ancestors are still present, and original rituals are still valid and today animated in terms of a covenant with God. I suggest that for To’abaita and Baelelea, we need to see APA’s engagement with God and Israel as novel shapes of abu, now mostly expressed in terms of “grace.” Attending a fellowship is thus a theocratic moment in the sense that one achieves an ultimate unity, joining Malaita and Israel, past-present-future, and the body of other worshippers. This experience sits somewhere in between mysticism and the concrete effort to build a New Jerusalem on Malaita. For this to be successful, Malaita needs to return to an original state of abu.
God then is no longer a God disconnected from Malaita’s pasts in the way most people in the SSEC would experience and explain it, but as a continuity of an original covenant with founding ancestors. Elements of the past such as rituals at shrines and first ancestors thus generate the future. Narratives of origin and memories of rituals at mountain tops, are stretched for a historicity of Malaita. Maeliau’s visions emerge out of his familiarity with visions and prophecies, and they firmly forge a temporal space for black theology in SSEC’s largely white Christian theology and mainstream historiography. They highlight the emergence of alternative temporalities within the context of North Malaita.
These alternative temporalities eschew a unilateral cause, a linear development from Genesis to Revelation in which Malaitans are meaningful players. Nevertheless, it does allow for a sense of multiplicity of time and relations to disparate sites: contemporary Malaita and past Israel, shrines on Malaita and mountains in past and present-day Israel. These connections offer a wider variety of experiences of time and space than the linear temporality of the visions suggests. Amid all the promises of development and infrastructure programs and progress and change, APA activates its own potential by offering an experience of time not premised on developmental change and progress. Instead, it offers the return of ancestors in a particular shape, now connected to ancient and contemporary Israel, and connections to the land that go beyond mere use and the Christian conception of dominion.
Maeliau’s break with the mother church of the SSEC in 2009 not only highlights APA’s doctrine but also its form of leadership. In a key letter to the SSEC, he argued that their theologians have left the prophets aside and struggle to explain unfulfilled prophecies, referring to Joel’s prophecy as quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost in particular. Peter refers to Joel’s eschatological prophecy to convey that the last days are the first days, that the eschaton is about new beginnings. In other words, the visions and of the sons and daughters of Israel in Joel’s prophecy, are the key to what Karl Barth describes as the wonder of astonishing biblical stories that highlight the “fundamentally new event which, although undoubtedly occurring within time and space, is not to be identified with other events occurring within the limits of time and space” (1963:68).
Maeliau thus draws the contrast between APA and the SSEC in terms of wonder, vision, and openness, and suggests he is open to astonishment. He is a self-proclaimed prophet and, as he likes to see himself, a theologian as a fact of grace, who situates himself in the moment of immanence that transcends all events in historiography as Jesus stands in eternity over time. Immanence here is the manifestation of God in Maeliau’s lifeworld and in the worlds of the people he associates with. His visions indicate this immanence, while also bringing unity to people’s makings of the past, in particular the position and role of their ancestors and past rituals. For decades people wondered about their origins in light of similarities they discern between their customary rituals and rituals of worship described in the Old Testament.
Like apostle Paul, Maeliau negates the post-colonial state, especially on the grounds of its colonial and, as people allege, secular origins and legacies, and seeks to establish a sovereignty for Malaita. But, unlike Paul who sought to overcome Moses by positing Jesus as superior (Hebrews 3: 1-6), Maeliau does not repudiate the Mosaic tradition but instead invokes it. Paul saw Moses’s Ten Commandments having less glory than Jesus’ new covenant, which includes the gentiles, and which brings life and righteousness. Maeliau, in contrast, while certainly not denying the importance of the new covenant, sees his original group and their Melanesian nation as born with God’s revelation to Moses at Sinai.
This is the basis for APA’s religious sovereignty. The movement is conceptualized as a family of people who identify with the Move of the Glory of the Lord and obey God’s commandments. Its main body of leaders are the elders, all prophets, who sit in the Throne Room Council. This is a small group of select leaders who guide and educate the local communities. Overlapping in membership with this group is the APA Jerusalem Council. This council of “spiritual eldership” also includes APA members from other regions in the Pacific. This group organizes and, when finances allow, attends the yearly council meetings in Jerusalem.
In North Malaita, APA’s communities are organized under the banner of the “All Peoples Communion” (APC). Also called “estates” or “communions,” APCs are the social and economic nuclei of the Malaitan nation (Bond and Timmer 2017:146-47). As the state is perceived as the New Jerusalem, these communities are to be run as the model for all the yet to be converted nations along the path back to Jerusalem. With pretensions to a world order and to firmly root nations in scripture, APCs are not just oppositions to the current state and nation of Solomon Islands, they are assemblages that make the thought of the state critical elements in people’s life worlds (Barker 2013; Timmer 2013).
Originally referred to as the “E-State” system, the APCs signify eternal and excellent state (Faiau 2013:142–47). The system is designed to capture the “seven spheres of society for God” which can be found in international Evangelical/Pentecostal discourse and is written into the evolving APC constitution. The spheres are arts and entertainment, business and finance, church and religion, distribution and information (media), education and science, family and home, and governance and law. Leaders of APCs tend to find the last share most relevant. The APC is able to carry out all the functions associated with a modern state and enters into a federation with other Communions. More generally, APCs are physical extensions or complements of APA: they are a push toward the physic-spiritual integration and wholeness that is seen as critical to theocracy-building (Bond and Timmer 2017:147).
While it may be tempting to see APA time as a resistance to the modern state and to the West’s modernity, the picture is less simple. Above all, Maeliau is unfolding an internal, local theological dynamic with evolving perceptions of the activities of God and Malaitan ancestral spirits in a culture in which the human order has always been unfinished. At the same time, Maeliau’s self-altering trajectory cannot be characterized as a change only reserved for himself. In APA, no one writes or owns a whole book, as it were. Works are collective, like a sacred text. Every Malaitan involved in the movement has taken on the transformation of their society towards a Christian nation.
Members of APA continuously seek to engage as new individuals with their variable relationships to living kin, ancestors, and a future nation. In other words, much of the momentum of APA is understood as generated from the divine within Malaitan culture itself, in a human order that is, like all human orders, always unfinished (cf. Jorgensen 1994). Moreover, conversion in this case is experienced as an increased interest in past, present and future social relations. The self-alteration of Maeliau led to substantial changes in his and his followers’ conceptualizations of core domains of Malaitan culture. Here spirits and spiritual power are transmitted to the group and believed in as a group, and it does not matter that this group has now been extended to ancestors in the Old Testament and fellow evangelical travelers around the globe.
What Maeliau as prophet and leader has done over the years is taking away the collective nature of prophecy. Especially since the 1970 revival, revelations became widespread but also lost overall direction. In that environment, Maeliau began to tell people that on the one hand, they should continue to be like prophets because it is a sign of the continuing presence of God and Malaitans as a chosen people. On the other hand, by becoming the leading prophet (like Moses for the Israelites) Maeliau froze the collective process by building a uniform theology and a unique history for Malaita as a foundation for a Christian nation.
Over the years though, Maeliau’s openness towards the spirits became less radical. Things are not as turbulent as they once were, and we see the emergence of increasingly more schematic and decontextualized ecclesiological themes of a gospel and liturgy. The last publication by Maeliau entitled The Revelation of the Glory of the Lord (2021) illustrates this. In contrast to his two histories of Malaita in The Land of Ophir (2018a) and The Lion Tribe of Judah (2018b), this latest book outlines an orthodoxy. It may be time, especially now that Maeliau is forever on the other side of the shrine, for a new prophet to ascend the mountain to open new gateways against this established order.
Image #1: Michael Maeliau in Tiberias, waiting for the bus, December 13, 2012.
Image #2: Prayer room of the Jerusalem House of Prayer.
Image #3: Prayer gathering at Little Rock, near the village of Afenakwai, North Malaita, Solomon Islands, December 24, 2015.
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This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie SkƗodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.
29 September 2022