What does a farmer, a preacher and a caravan park owner have in common?
They were each used by God to bring about a new Tongan Church plant in Tully, North Queensland.
About twelve months ago, a couple owning a caravan park in Tully were led by God to trial bringing Tongans to work in the banana farms around the Tully district under a six month government visa. Ten Tongans arrived in this group and proved themselves to be very good workers, with a positive happy Christian ethos. Twenty more arrived subsequently and it became clear that there were also spiritual needs that were not being met either from within the group, under supervision of a Tongan work leader, and not by the local churches largely because of cultural hurdles.
A local pastor was approached to seek the possibility of bringing a Tongan Pastor, and through a series of conversations, the Australian Tongan Wesleyan community was made aware of the need at their Easter meetings.
As Rev Rachael Tonga, approaching retirement, put it, “No one was putting up their hand, but God laid it upon my heart to say “yes!” The NQ District Wesleyan cogs got spinning and Rev Rachael, along with her granddaughter Ebony, and Tongan leader, Rev Dr Siosifa Lokotui, arrived in Tully to be introduced and to make a start.
Flexibility with God’s timing and co-ordination has been vital with this new beginnings.
The first service was held at 4pm on Sunday 10th April 2016 at the Tully Baptist Church, attended by 30+ Tongans and 30+ locals and officials including several other church pastors. District Superintendent Rev Stuart Hall installed Rev Rachael Tonga; Rev Dr Siosifa Lokotui brought a powerful message in mostly Tongan; Rev Rachael led the service with Ebony taking care of the projection of songs and readings.
A Tongan gathering would not be complete without food and celebrations with acapella Tongan singing was enjoyed both on Friday night and Sunday after the service. Imagine what God could do with 30+ Tongans in 6 months discipling under Pastor Rachael with this group, as they return and revitalise their family and friends with Christ. Imagine the encouragement for local Tongans having a place to worship God in their mother tongue.
Pastor Rachael will continue to enjoy the unit at the caravan park, provided free by the owners and the use of a vehicle until she makes other arrangements down the track.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS
- Praise God for calling Rev Rachael Tonga and her daughter Ebony Tolu for this new ministry.
- Praise for Pastor Zane and the local caravan park owners, Peter and Angie, who have opened the doors to this ministry in Tully.
- Pray for the 30+ Tongans, with large increases likely, to open their hearts and minds to God’s love and truth through Pastor Rachael.
- Pray for Rev Rachael & Ebony who had to travel to Sydney for a funeral this week (13-16th April)
- Pray for strength for Rev Rachael, near retirement age, for the various demands of this ministry.
- Pray for accommodation, transport and financial arrangements to work smoothly.
- Pray for local Tongans to connect and form a strong nucleus.
- Pray for the ongoing good relations with the other churches in Tully
- Pray for the District as it provides support for this new venture.
Pastor Stuart Hall
District Superintendent NQ District
Wesleyan Methodist Church
Friday 15th April 2016