Pacific Islanders as Missionaries
Hi David -
I was intrigued by the headline, "New wave
of Samoan missionaries...".
I couldn't see any expansion of this theme
in your attached article, though.
Can you expand this thought more for me?
John McNeil - South Island
Editor, Challenge Weekly
I've been at a YWAM regional staff conference in Sydney. Nearly 700
full time YWAMers, about 10% from New Zealand, nearly 10% Polynesians,
nearly 10% Melanesian (including those from PNG and Australian
Aboriginals), and almost 10% Koreans serving with YWAM in this region.
The remaining 66 or so % were YWAMers serving in Australia.
You're right, I didn't expand on that theme, though I did
refer to it toward the end of the report in relation to the upcoming
"Samoa for Missions" conference which will be right after the South
Pacific Games outreach.
Pacific Islanders have played a key role in
the expansion of the Gospel for about 200 years, though they've been
given little press since the history books have largely been written by
the European community. Tahitions were instrumental in taking the
Gospel (along with the European missionaries) to Tonga and Hawaii.
Tongans were instrumental in taking the Gospel to Samoa and many other
Pacific Island groups.
Samoans soon responded to the great commission and took the
Gospel to many Pacific Island groups. In the mid through late 19th
century - and into the 20th century - Samoans and Tongans took the
gospel to various parts of Papua New Guinea. Most of these built their
own casket before they left and packed it with supplies, knowing they'd
likely never return to their beloved homeland.
But they didn't keep going into Asia. It was almost as if
they had hit a wall with PNG and didn't try to go beyond it. Part of
the reason is that the Pacific Island churches began to shift their
priorities from foreign missions to building bigger and better church
buildings at home. (Sound familiar?)
Over the generations the church was the centre of much of
village life in the islands. But the revival fires of a personal
relationship with God were often lacking. Personal concerns became more
important to most people, including the institutional church leaders,
than missions in some distant land.
But in 1983 during the South Pacific Games in Apia, Western
Samoa, quite a few Samoans - and some Fijians and Tongans - accepted
the challenge presented by various leaders in Youth With A Mission
(YWAM). After their DTS (discipleship training school) some went to
India and Bangladesh, others to Japan and Taiwan, still others to serve
in "already reached countries" like Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and
Canada (all of which have plenty of "unreached" as well).
These went at great personal sacrifice, as well as the
sacrifice of family and friends. Few have been supported by their home
church, literally "living by faith". Many of these are still in those
places today and seeing significant fruit for the expansion of God's
kingdom. For example, Soli * has a team of over a hundred working with
him over the past few decades in Bangladesh. They serve in the slum
areas providing medical assistance and vocational training. They
prepare more workers through Discipleship Training Schools and Frontier
About twenty of these now veteran Samoan missionaries are
planning to return to Samoa for the '07 South Pacific Games outreach - www.southpacificgamesoutreach.com
- and hold two "Samoa
" conferences, one in
other in Pago. They are believing God to speak to many more Samoans -
and other Pacific Islanders - to accept the challenge of the great
commission and take the gospel into various parts of Asia and other
parts of the world.
Contrary to the last wave, which happened despite the lack of
support from their home churches, this conference is being sponsored by
some of the
key leaders from the various denominations in Samoa. So hopefully there
will be less hurdles and more support for those who respond to the
missionary call with this wave. But missions is never accomplished
Pacific Islanders normally make
excellent missionaries. Their
faith, their humility, their ability to adapt to almost any living
situation, their priority on relationships, all these things are
important contributing factors which often lend to Pacific Islanders
being more effective sometimes than European missionaries in certain
Will you pray with us that God will raise up another wave of
Pacific Island missionaries to take the Gospel in various parts of Asia?
* Not his real name for security reasons.
|by David Hall -
David has served as a missionary in the Pacific and Asia region for
over thirty five years. David helped pioneer Teen Challenge Hawaii
during the "Jesus Movement", YWAM Samoa in the mid '70, and YWAM
Singapore in the early '80s. He and his wife, Lydia, led the first YWAM
Discipleship Training School in Indonesia. David was part of the
leadership team in Kona, Hawaii from '83 to '95. In '96 David moved his
family to Auckland, New Zealand where he started Across Ministries,
part of the YWAM family of ministries.