I will miss you Tonga…

With only 10 more days in the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga, I have begun to reflect on the things that I will miss as I return to Australia. Here are a few of the main ones:

1) The Palu family – Times spent with Ma’afu and Bessie have certainly been a highlight of my stay in Tonga. They have generously fed me each day and supplied me with various herbal tea concoctions. Their children are great fun, and Bate, their two-year old son, has taken a particular liking to singing with me. He can regularly be heard singing “Hallelujah, Hallelujah” or “Happy Day”. Most significantly, I will miss the times spent discussing the various things we have read in the Bible each day and praying together for the ministries we are involved in. Their support in prayer has sustained me through some difficult times here, and their insights into the Scriptures have taught me much about our loving, faithful and powerful God. Continue reading

Learning from the Mormons (part 1)

This past week has featured an increased interaction with the Mormon Church in Tonga. Last Sunday I attended one of their churches for the first time with my friend Palei. Then on Tuesday night I invited some Mormon missionaries, Elder Thompson and Elder Tamale, over for dinner. I wanted to share some of the things I learnt about the Mormon church through these experiences. Continue reading

No one should despise your youth

As I came to 1 Timothy in my Bible reading this week, Paul’s encouragement to Timothy in 4:12 took on a new meaning after my experiences in Tonga. “No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Tongan culture strongly esteems age and tradition above youth and innovation. As a young man in ministry, who has been trained in a church and university ministry that encourages innovation, it has been difficult to adapt. There have been times where I have felt despised for my youth. I thank God for these times, for they have shattered my sinful pride and helped me to not rely on an existing reputation. Continue reading

Church attacks in Cairo

The following story is from the Voice of the Martyrs prayer watch. I have been praying through these stories on Sundays this year, and encourage you to sign up to receive the emails and pray with me for our brothers and sisters around the world. You can sign up here

“At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded when members of a conservative Muslim movement attacked two churches and surrounding Christian-owned homes and businesses in a poor section of Cairo on Saturday 7 May. Salifis, a hard-line Islamic movement with extremist tendencies, set fire to one of the two church buildings, leaving most of it gutted.

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Combatants

Due to lack of internet access yesterday, I was unable to post this final story. It is potentially saddest of all, yet contains a glimmer of light and hope.

Again I would bring you back to Sia’atoutai, where there are some hopeful students amongst the first years. One young man has been battling since he arrived here at the start of the year. Although a Tongan, he has spent his entirely life outside of Tonga. As a youth, his life was given over to selling drugs, chasing after wealth which he managed to attain pretty well until he ended up in prison. While in prison, he returned to the Lord that his parents loved and served and resolved to turn his life around. Since coming to Sia’atoutai however, a place where you would hope such a young man would be encouraged and experience God, his enthusiasm for God has instead been quashed. Continue reading

Communism

In 2006, Tonga suffered from something of an uprising as rioters burnt much of the CBD to the ground. While there are some who praise this event, it set the kingdom back a long way. In order to rebuild the town, the government resorted to borrowing huge sums of money from the Chinese government. Every new building in town has been funded and built by the Chinese. Every road upgrade happening around the island is funded and built by the Chinese. Tonga now finds itself in huge debt to China, a debt that it seems they will never be able to pay. Continue reading