Pegasus Bay, north of Christchurch, New Zealand. One of Otago University’s five campuses is located in Christchurch.

How God Works in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji

words by

Mike Chapman & Jan Stewart

photos by

Guy Gerrard

Nothing limits God as he faithfully reaches out to people, even on the 14 island countries of Oceania, linked together by the Pacific Ocean. The current campus ministries in three of these countries — New Zealand, Australia and Fiji — are noteworthy. God is at work in the lives of college students in this part of the world, revealing himself and drawing people into a personal relationship with him.

Spiritual openness in New Zealand

Christianity in New Zealand is officially declining. In the 2018 census, 37% of the population identified themselves as Christians, in contrast to almost 59% in 2001. Possible reasons include New Zealand’s lack of religious traditions, negative views of Christianity due to church abuse, church teaching on homosexuality, and Christians not practicing what they preach.

University of Auckland, New Zealand University of Auckland, on the North Island of New Zealand, one of many campuses where God is at work.

However, there is renewed interest in the good news of Jesus on New Zealand’s college campuses. In 2021, in just one week at the University of Auckland campus, more than 3,500 students filled out a spiritual interest survey. Students from Cru®’s Student Life campus ministry responded to their peers by showing God’s love in creative, practical ways to hundreds of students. During fall 2022, Student Life identified hundreds of interested students at 19 different college campuses, including nine where the ministry has never had ministries.

University of Auckland, New Zealand The University of Auckland has the largest student enrollment in New Zealand.

Like on most university campuses during their first week over on the Otago University campus — in the city of Dunedin, on New Zealand’s southeast coast — hundreds of students walked by student organization stalls, perusing displays and offers of giveaways. In exchange for completing a two-minute survey, Student Life offered free “jandals” — slang for trendy Japanese sandals also known as Jesus sandals.

Many students at Otago University remained in isolation at the start of the 2022 academic year because of COVID-19 infections in their households. Student Life leaders discovered that these students needed essential supplies, like bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper. So they started an Instagram account called Scarfie Care, where lockdown students could sign up for care packages of food and groceries. “Scarfie” is slang for an Otago University student.


“In one afternoon we dropped off close to 50 packages,” Student Life staff member Gracie Mackenzie says. “Each included essential items plus a couple of treats and our Student Life magazine with helpful articles on studying successfully, maintaining mental health and how to know God personally.”

Australia answers seekers

The majority of the University of Sydney’s 75,000 students live with their families, doing online learning and commuting to campus from home. The Australian Cru movement there is called Power to Change®.

Power to Change student leaders reached out to others in their dorms and classes or shared their faith in different settings to start spiritual conversations. This led to a seekers group of students who wanted to learn more about Jesus by reading the Gospel of Mark.

Australia The Blue Mountains National Park is located about 36 miles west of the University of Sydney.
View of Sydney Harbour, with Opera house on left in Australia. In Sydney, the Opera House (on the left) is about three miles from the University of Sydney.

“The community has grown this year,” says Andy Donaldson, Power to Change staff member. “It has been a real blessing to see how God has moved — we have people who are seeking, but also Christians who came to join a community. It’s becoming a missional community where we’ve got non-Christians coming to Bible study groups and Christians learning to share their faith and finding out more how to do that.”

The Power to Change ministry at the University of Sydney concentrates on relational connections to share the gospel with others. Those involved have the heart to reach the campus and community.

Fiji focuses on faith

Fiji is made up of more than 300 islands, with the capital of Suva on the major island of Viti Levu. Two of the notable universities in Suva are University of the South Pacific (USP) and Fiji National University (FNU). The Student Life USP weekly connection group meets on Wednesdays while Cru FNU meets on Thursdays.

These pictures are all taken in the capital city of Suva. The tides go way out leaving mud flats during low tide. This woman was digging clams on the flats. Near Suva, Fiji’s capital, low tides reveal mud flats where people dig clams.

Students on both campuses show an eagerness to be trained in how to share their faith and initiate talks with others. They’re taking steps of faith to tell others about Jesus Christ, such as hosting a student gaming program and talking with villagers during a training conference.


Olivia Saukuru, Laisa Karawalevu and Isoa Saukuru share how they’ve experienced others’ interest in spiritual matters.


“We asked our student leaders, ‘After two years of COVID, how are we going to contact students differently?’” says Jeanette Ravoka, Fiji Campus Crusade for Christ HR leader and staff member.  “One student, Joseva, set up a gaming platform at FNU and ran it for a week. Those who won the prize were required to come to our weekly connection. A team of four med students from a Hindu background won it and came to the meeting. I tweaked what I was sharing to be more of an evangelistic address. One of them wanted to meet and know more about Jesus.”

These pictures were taken on South Sea island. Fiji has over 300 islands, many of which are not inhabited. Fiji has more than 300 islands, many of which are uninhabited.

God continues to change young people’s lives in Oceania with the gospel of Christ. College students involved with Cru show creativity, enthusiasm and compassion in their outreach, care for their campuses, and trust in God to expand their influence. There is no physical location too small or surrounded by beautiful sea water where God is not working.

How is God at work where you are? Here are some useful tools for reaching others around you.


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