The Mission to the Cities initiative continues to gain momentum in cities around the South Pacific, using a combination of evangelism and health messages. The recent program in Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, was no exception.
The Tongan Prime Minister and his wife attended the first program, along with Tongan parliamentarians, nobles and people from all levels of the community, with the PM’s wife continuing to attend subsequent programs.
The series was held in two locations—at Beulah Adventist College for students and staff in the mornings and in downtown Nuku’alofa at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall at night. A children’s program was also run in the evenings at Nuku’alofa church.
“At times there were 400 children at the children’s program and up to 1000 at the Queen Salote Hall,” said Pastor Ofa Pepa, who coordinated the evangelism.
It Is Written Oceania director, Pastor Gary Kent, was the main presenter after IIWO was screened on television in the two months before the program.
“It was a privilege to work in the Kingdom of Tonga,” Pastor Kent said. “The support from the Church was excellent. It was well organised and the people of Tonga responded well. They are a religious people, a spiritual people and many are searching for Bible truth. They want to know what the Bible really teaches and to find answers they are turning to the Adventist Church and that’s a good thing.”
Dr Chester Kuma, Associate Health director for the South Pacific Division, presented on the health and lifestyle diseases that are plaguing the Pacific.
“The health messages by Dr Kuma were outstanding and very much needed,” said Tongan Mission president, Pastor Sione Moala. “Tonga has seen a significant rise in non-communicable diseases in recent years. I noticed that more people were out exercising early in the morning as a result of the meetings.” Pastor Moala was also translator for the series.
“The Church on Tongatapu Island, Tonga, has worked together creatively to make this public evangelistic series part of a good process of evangelism; working with Beulah staff and students has been an extra bonus—well done,” said Trans-Pacific Union (TPUM) president, Pastor Glenn Townend.
In preparation for the program, Dr Ron Stone, TPUM’s Ministerial secretary and also a Tongan, trained church members in friendship evangelism.
Afterwards 63 people were baptised, while more than 40 students from Beulah and children above 10 years of age made commitments to Jesus and need to get parental permission to be baptised at a later date. Bible studies with school chaplain, Pastor Helala, and other pastors are continuing.
Both the health and Bible messages will be shown on Tongatapu Island’s TV station later in the year and the outer islands of Tonga will receive DVDs of the whole program to show as a public evangelistic program.—Jarrod Stackelroth/TPUM News