Active For God
This Hawaiian church has an Aloha attitude that wins converts and nurtures members.
Written by Helen Escobar
When most people think about Hawaii, they think of a beautiful tropical island, and it is. However, the town of Waianae on the island of Oahu, only gets about twenty inches of rain a year, mostly during the winter months. The rest of the time it is dry and brown. It is on the western tip of the island far away from the glamour and glitz of Waikiki. It is called “da country”.
There is a small country church in Waianae with a membership of about 150 wonderful Seventh-day Adventist Christians. From June 11 to July 3, Taj Pacleb, evangelist for Central California Conference who grew up in Waianae, conducted evangelistic meetings and baptized nineteen beautiful Christian islanders. Three of the young people Pastor Taj had baptized the previous summer are now trained Bible workers who are studying with other interested people who are preparing for a future baptism in August when Pastor Taj pays a brief return visit. (I know this are long, clumsy sentence but you can fix it. ;-))
Many plans are being made to keep these new converts growing and learning about their new faith. Monday evening between fifteen and twenty people meet in a member’s home for Bible study with our new Bible workers, Daphne, Ipo and Marc. They are converts from Taj’s meetings last summer and just returned from a semester of training at Amazing Facts College of Evangelism.
Wednesday evening is prayer meeting. But it is not just an ordinary prayer meeting. After brief opening ceremonies, people share their praises and concerns they would like to pray about. The remainder of the evening is spent in intercessory prayer. Although the meeting is supposed to be over by eight or eight thirty, there have been times when people were still praying at ten o’clock when there was something really urgent to pray about! The list of answered prayer is long and exciting! God does answer prayer.
Friday evening one of the church couples conducts a general Bible study at the church where many of the members and guests enjoy welcoming the Sabbath together.
Sabbath morning Sabbath school begins at 9:15 a.m. and it is exciting how many people arrive on time for song service. (It didn’t used to be that way.) After a quick welcome and opening prayer, the Sabbath School superintendent divides those present into small groups and each is given a topic pertaining to the current Sabbath School lesson, which they discuss in their group. Then the group designates one individual to report to the whole class what they learned from their discussion. This leaves thirty minutes for lesson study. Every week three different people volunteer or are invited to present two sections from the Bible study lesson guide the following week, ten minutes each. Having three different presenters and perspectives keeps the discussion varied and vibrant. Of course we have a Sabbath School class for our new believers to help them develop and mature in their new beliefs. Our Bible workers are responsible for this class.
It has become tradition in Hawaii for all the churches to have a potluck after the church service and the Waianae Church is no exception. The Waianae church serves lots of ono (delicious) Filipino food. Often after potluck there is a hike or other activity planned for the young people and the young at heart if they are so inclined. At sundown everyone meets at the beach for lots of singing with ukulele accompaniment and a devotional thought to close the Sabbath.
All of this has taken place without a pastor for the past six months. Our new pastor will assume his responsibilities August 1 and everyone is eager to meet him and begin to lay plans for some helpful workshops for our church family and the community as well.
The Waianae Church is excited about the opportunity God has given them to share the love of Jesus in their community. We continue to pray for wisdom to be good stewards of the gospel commission He has given us to go into all the world and tell the good news of Jesus love to each person.
Now you know I’m not a trained writer. Please feel free to edit this any way you need to. You can cut, rearrange, ask for more details, etc
Taj had a team of twenty Bible workers that volunteered to accompany him for training during the meetings so he accomplished several goals at once. He also got to visit his parents and grandparents and little brother while he was here. Taj has a passion to give the gospel to his classmates from the Waianae high school where he had a reputation as a troublemaker.
If you want the names of the Bible workers our church has hired, they are Ipo Sarte-Sweden, Daphne Alvarado and Marc Pasion. They just completed a semester of classes at the Amazing Facts College of Evangelism, better known as AFCO. The two ladies were baptized during Taj’s meetings last June; Marc was kind of drifting since graduating from high school and had joined the National Guard. He rededicated his life to Jesus last summer and his commanding officer gave him permission to take a semester off to attend AFCO. Now he has been granted Sabbaths off too! While he was at AFCO his father passed away. (He was not a believer.) It sent shock waves through our church and turned Marc’s mom’s life around. Now she is faithfully involved in many church activities and witnessing to her co-workers and Marc is trying to help his younger brother, Kalani, see how much God loves him. Kalani is not interested in church at all so this story is unfinished as are we all... A year ago, Ipo and Daphne were both living with their boy friends and Daphne was studying Buddhism. Her younger brother who was on drugs is now in rehab, PTLt! There are so many exciting stories, it’s hard to stop writing about them!
You mentioned you wanted numbers. Our Sabbath School attendance is an estimated sixty adults and forty keiki (children), give or take many or a few, on any given Sabbath. Our superintendent has a Sabbath School council as needed. She had one during potluck last Sabbath. We have not had a VBS or Pathfinder Club for at least six years since we have been here but there are rumblings of starting a Pathfinder Club next year. With all our new members and excitement perhaps a VBS leader will surface by next summer. We have been involved in the Angel Tree Ministry since we have been here and provide Christmas gifts to about twenty-five children of prisoners. You are welcome to incorporate any or all or none of this information into the article. I’m not sure where it would fit.
I have attached a few photos to this file but will probably have to send a second file for the rest of them. I don’t know of any photos from the birthday party that I mentioned but I have added some others. Some are from Taj’s meetings last summer. Unfortuately, we were in Michigan this summer during the meetings this summer so we don’t have many photos from the recent meetings.