Across Pacific Magazine

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?
CheersProclaim 07
John McNeil - South Island Editor, Challenge Weekly

Hi John,
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.
serving Asia
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.
83 Torch Run
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 Missions Schools.

About twenty of these now veteran Samoan missionaries are planning to return to Samoa for the '07 South Pacific Games outreach - - and hold two "Samoa for Missions" conferences, one in Apia, the 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 without sacrifice.

Fiji & Samoa misnrsPacific 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 mission fields.

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.

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