Monday, May 18, 2015

Tangata Whenua

One of the units at college I'm studying is "The Torah-or Pentateuch" and we're currently dissecting the account of creation. The biblical account of mans creation tells us that the human race derived originally from the dust of the ground, Genesis goes on to tell us that God's instruction to man and woman was to labour in love for the living animals and the land.

This connection between human and earth has run through the DNA since the beginning of time, but it's a low down dirty shame that over generations and generations of people where farming was mandatory, we've now come to a sudden halt with a mass of people just have to meander through aisles of shelved and packaged food items to purchase from the local super market.

My dad and his mini plantation back in Auckland NZ
Some people I know have a green thumb and keep a garden out of enjoyment and leisure rather than necessity. My wife for example loves planting herbs, veges, and flowers in her little patch. And my dad, had a massive passion for planting taro etc when we lived in New Zealand. He often likes to reminisce and share stories of when he'd spend weeks on end sleeping at his family plantation in Samoa and working the soil and all the hard toil that came with it. There's a twinkle in his eye when he talks about the time of harvest, and I feel the excitement at our dinner table when my wife announces that the herbs and/or vegetables used for our dinner came from her little garden.

One of the most fascinating and peaceful people I've noticed that have a healthy relationship with the earth are the Native Indians of America. I've never lived among them, just spouting from a bank of knowledge that I've acquired from reliable sources like Hollywood :P , Encyclopedia etc. (oh and people that lived among them), It seems they have a mutual understanding of giving and taking and a deliberate aim to learn life principles by observing nature.

In New Zealand, or Aotearoa where I grew up, the natives, or the Maori's were synonymous with "Tangata Whenua" if compared to the Samoan language, we'd say "Tagata Fanua" literally "People Land", therefore the Maori's were known as the People of the Land of Aotearoa. I enjoyed listening to the myths, legends and songs from the Tangata Whenua. Even the art reflected their value on the importance of the land. They fought for their land and worked it for all the necessities in life. And from a young age, I believe the stories made an impact on a young suburban Samoan that didnt' know didly squat about gardening.

But the fascinating thing is, the populace of todays' first world countries have toppled the natural way of things on it's head. As God instructed in the beginning to "tend and keep" (Genesis 2:15) the land and animals, we tend to have kept it and consumed it. The more we consume, the less the land has time to heal and provide. How can this earth keep going on like this? Even in it's degenerate state it still sustains us.

I'm convinced every person that confesses to be a Christian ought to give time to acquiring the skills to tending the garden, or someway contributing to replenishing the earth around us. I'm not challenging myself and you to change the world, but just the environment around you. See how much you end up connecting with your piece of land. We should all pledge allegiance to being part of the Tangata Whenua.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Hills Adventist College WOSE 2015 Reflections

The Theme at Hills Week of Siritual Emphasis
Since being blessed after the week I did the speaking appointment at Central Coast Adventist School in March of this year, I had all intentions to try and reflect on the week that was. So here's a crack at last weeks. This is for my own purposes as I look back from here on in, for those who were there and can reflect in the experience and also for those who benefit in one way or the other from Uncle Dave's drivel.

The whole affair began from the same dude who invited me to speak at the CCAS, the chaplain, Nimrod Maua. He'd inadvertently dropped my name on another chaplain at Hills Adventist College (HAC), Ian Cangy and so it was, I accepted and last Friday completed the week.

If there's one thing I learned from my very first appointment in the year at SNZ big camp, learn, learn, and learn. The amount of experience that was at the big camp was enormous, ranging from well learned missionaries, to a professional film-maker, and the kids, woah! So much to take in. If God opens the door for you to serve in whatever ministry you've been given, then do so, BUT receive from those around you also.

It was the feedback from Nimrod that were some of the most beneficial. He would share his experiences and impart some of the knowledge that benefited or didn't in his walk, I took note and even applied them as the week went on and saw how fruitful they were.
The greeting into worship

So when I went to HAC, I had intended to drill the mind of Ian Cangy as much as I possibly could. But the difference between CCAS and HAC was I drove back to college everyday with CCAS to ensure I didn't miss my Greek classes, but with HAC, I hung around and got to chat with the kids during recess and even spend some Q & A time during classes.

So I return now with notes from the experience of chaplaincy from Ian Cangy. Numerous conversations with kids ranging from Years 5-12, with an array from "what's your favourite colour?" to "what made you believe the Bible?"

At HAC, the theme was "take 2". It was a clever theme in that it looked at how God is a God of renewal, forgiveness and grace and is looking at "taking 2" with you. The talks revolved around five topics. 
  1. It takes 2 to feel valuable
  2. It takes 2 to be forgiven
  3. It takes 2 to be held accountable
  4. It takes 2 to be fruitful and share your gifts
  5. It takes 2 to be a power of influence
The leaders in song and music
I was blown away by the work at HAC. Ian Cangy assured me that the kids had conjured up the theme, the interior design, they made up the band, the drama team, the program, the AV, anything you can think of were ran by the students OR arranged by the students. The only thing Ian did, was call me. And here is something worth noting. Quite often I've noticed in our SDA circles that we place so much emphasis on the speakers. When an event is going to take place "Oh who is the speaker?". "Is he/she good?", "Is he/she conservative/liberal?" which will measure our motivation to attend or not. But here's the thing, the speaker is just a prop (hehehe I like that, a prop? See what I did there?*hint rugby*). The people who have been on the ground, know the audience, know the environment and have been praying for them longer than the time you got invited as a speaker. They are the key influence in power, and as a should invest your effort and time in listening and vibing from them. God's ministry will continue long after the speaker returns home.

I'm incredibly appreciative from the team at HAC. Thanks for having me and making me feel valuable by appreciating my stories, and still being my friends even after hearing them :D.

Here are some of the things I learn as I journey in 2015.

The WOSE team
  • In the beginning of the year, I was preaching to a community of young kiwi kids who had some familiarity with the SDA church and everything that is attached to this particular culture. The massive thing I learned here was that God can make you fall in love with kids within a days familiarity. 
  • At CCAS, I was told 70% of the students are of a non-christian background and therefore had to speak Jesus in such a way that was digestible and tasted nice enough to entice them to the main meal (bible study). The big thing I learned here was all my SDA doctrines had no placeto be mentioned when non-christian kids talked to me about issues in their home and how they wanted to me to pray for them.
  • At HAC, it was a similar ordeal, they knew I was going to share the Bible, and talk about Jesus. And although I had felt like Hip-Hop was on the wrong side of the monopoly game board, it occurred to me that the kids still liked me for just being me. And that, that is a freeing feeling. 
  • I'm learning more and more, that God's way of reaching those that are reaching for Him are far beyond the box I had limited Him to. God will use whoever, whatever, and however, and we're best to just roll with it. (If this doesn't sit right with you, trust me, I know exactly how you feel)
  • No disrespect to Nimrod, Ian, my fellow Theology classmates, and any other ministers around the world, but I'm noticing more and more that the people who He has called to ministry are definitely not the ones congregated at the arrivals hall, we're just convinced we know who the pilot is and he knows how to get us to the destination and we're trying to tell as many people as possible who are at the wrong gates.  
Students in Worship
And here's the the thing. As much as I'd like to bust out in inoculations of Daniel and Revelation vaccination shots, I've got to bring Jesus Christ to the forefront and speak about the Physician. I've been wrestling with these ideas for awhile now. The three angels message are so dear to me. The details of our churches history, the 2300 day prophecy, the prophecy of the Messiah and so much more. But how are these teachings relevant in the day to day dealings with people such as these kids who don't know the bible, and it's contents, and haven't yet experienced Jesus?

Rally cry "It takes whaaat?!"
And I realise, it all comes down to "it takes 2". Relationships mean everything. Most people know that Sokha and I are married. But we have experiences with intricate details that only matter to us. We understand each others facial expressions, and voice tones. She knows some of the stupid things I got angry about early in our relationship, but all of this doesn't matter to people outside our marriage....unless of course they really want to know US. My eldest has already started inquiring about US pre-marriage.....and why should I not be surprised?
If someone really wants to know Jesus, they will ask the right questions. And they will be blown away by how much, and how willing, and how valuable they are to Him. I praise God for the experiences he's given me this year, and the brothers and sisters that have allowed me these opportunities 

(Photo Credit: Rod Long)