Coming together in Prayer for the Kingdom of Tonga
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it” [John 1. 5]
Throughout the last few weeks, many have gathered in prayer in solidarity with Tonga and her people and to say it’s been comforting, is truly saying the least. When the earthquake hit and the Tsunami had overcome the Kingdom of Tonga, the mood and vibe immediately changed in my household. With communications broken, not knowing what was happening to all the people you love. And overcome with emotions and anxiety, the only thing left to do was to pray.
I found myself in COVID isolation that week as a close contact and never once during that hard hitting week did, I ever feel alone. In times of need we turned to the Lord. Hymns were sung, a Prayer chain online had started and everyone abroad and living in diaspora had stayed awake all night as darkness had overtaken the Kingdom.
It’s has been comforting to join in numerous zoom prayers with other members of the community as we sought for Gods help for all our friends and relatives back home.
Our Moderator-elect of the Uniting Church NSW and ACT, Rev. Mata Havea Hiliau, prayed live on Facebook, urging people to light a candle of hope and pray without ceasing for Tonga. Our Tongan Ministers and Pasifika Congregations, our Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford, Rev. Charissa Suli – Ministers from all nationalities of our church came together to pray. A gift to the Uniting Church and I thank God for the way prayers and leadership present during this time was able to shapes and challenges us in our worship, witness and service.
As a few days had gone by and limited communication was restored a group of 2ndgen Tongan Young Leaders got together in hope to bring a platform where young people could offer a space of healing and prayer. “2ndgen back to Tonga”.
Young Leaders from the Tongan National Conference went LIVE for young people to call in an join in a few hours of sharing their stories of how they were dealing with the after affects of the natural disaster. But more importantly offering prayer back to the motherland. It has truly been a space of comfort, a space for solidarity and a space of welcome for anyone to reach out and join in prayer.
Not only did we receive calls of prayers and support from all over Australia from UCA ministers and her people but also from New Zealand just wanting to join a space where young people can be grateful together, and talanoa with hearts of gratitude.
From the overwhelming response and want from our young people this program will run for the next month every Saturday night 7pm for Prayers, support and a space to chat.
The ongoing support from those whom I work with in UME, Pulse team and in the wider community has been much needed and appreciated during this time. We feel each other’s pain and celebrate each other’s joys together is one of the joys of being part of this Church. Let us continue to pray for both your communities here in Australia and, most especially, for those you love back home in Tonga.
For those who may want to donate to the Uniting World emergency appeal here: https://donate.unitingworld.org.au/tonga
May God bless us all during this time and with the knowledge that God is never far from us, and the Holy Spirit will be with us in this journey, in the recovery and the rebuilding in the months to come.
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Joyce Tangi is the Field Officer (South) and Children’s/Family ministry lead as a part of the PULSE team.