He holds one of the highest legal offices in the country, but Stephen remains humble and grounded, knowing everything he has is a gift from God, to be used to help others.
When Stephen Felix finished school in Vanuatu and moved to study at the South Pacific Bible College in New Zealand, he had no idea it would be the start of his journey to the top of the legal system in his home nation.
“I was looking at opportunities to go travelling or experience a different lifestyle, different culture, and learn some English. Not so much learning Bible,” he said.
But as his studies at the college progressed, he found a new perspective.
“I started to see the wisdom of my father saying, ‘This is place you probably need to go and build your base’,” he said.
But Stephen still didn’t know that God would use that base to advance his legal career and bless his home nation.
“You know, “I never thought of becoming a lawyer before I came to the bible college. I was thinking, ‘A Diploma of Biblical Studies, and then… what?’”
After returning to Vanuatu, Stephen quickly rose through the ranks of the justice system.
“I made my way up through the structure in the court system. And then got appointed to the bench in the magistrate’s court in ‘97, at the age of 24.”
He recalls how SPBC classes such as Crisis Counselling became an extremely practical help to him, as he served in the family courts, helping resolve disputes for families in crisis.
Now a Supreme Court Judge – one of the highest legal offices in the country – Stephen credits his time at SPBC for aiding his success in a broader sense.
“I only have one law degree, and this Diploma of Advanced Biblical Studies that I’ve put in a frame, and I always put in my office. And I always tell people, ‘Maybe it’s this diploma that got me all this – maybe not the law degree.’”
“When I have applied for the positions, I don’t necessarily have other lawyers’ experience. They have the knowledge, they have the experience, and greater qualifications, but I guess they were looking for a correct attitude in the job, which not many of them had.”
Outside of work, Stephen is the President of the Port Vila Soccer Association, and uses his role to instil values of respect, integrity and community in the young people who come to enjoy the sport.
He even helps accommodate several of the young men at the soccer club, who have moved from surrounding islands to establish themselves in Port Vila.
He is also raising four daughters with his wife, and as a family they attend the Eton Village Church of Christ, where Stephen is active in leadership.
By serving at work, church and in the community, Stephen aims to bless others as a servant of God.
“The success of a lawyer is not about how much money he can make, but about how many people he can help,” quotes Stephen.
“So I take the opportunity and just try to help as many people as I can.“
He says SPBC helped him apply his faith daily, and ultimately changed the course of his life.
“It’s something you can actually use in your real life and it’s going to bless your life and bless other people’s lives as well.
“It has been a real blessing for me to come to the college. And my encouragement to the younger ones and the ones who are thinking of coming to the college: Just try and it you’ll see that the Lord will bless you.”