Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20
By Vaitafa Heimoana
My journey started in Tonga, Pacific Island and has brought me to the Exeter United Methodist Church. It was tough, rough seas, storms and strong winds but I managed to survive. My studies for the ministry began in Tonga, and I expanded and furthered my studies in Suva, Fiji and Claremont School of Theology, Los Angles was my latest destination for education. In 2009, I got married to my beautiful wife Manuopea and in 2011 our one and only son Taumata was born. I went back to the local church to work my way up, as lay speaker, lay leader, choir member, chair of committees, worship participant and liturgist. I also participated in workshops and trainings to become an effective leader. At the same time, I entered the candidacy for Minister of the United Methodist Church (California-Nevada Annual Conference). Exeter is my first appointment. It is a blessed city which reminds me of home. When I saw the farms of cows, horses, goats etc. along the way, coming from the bay area it recaps the village where I grew up. Plantation was the income and food for the villages. Farmers bring back memories of the Island that I hail from in the Pacific Islands. The city of Exeter is home for my family.
Furthermore, coming to a new church, the primary task of my ministry is to identify the members of my church. To become familiar with the names and faces, not only that but to memorize and remember. As I get to know them individually, each name ties me to a family to which they each belong or grew up with in Exeter. This also reminds me of home. Every village in the island has a specific name and each relates to another. Either they grew up together or know a relative from the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. That is one part of the uniqueness of living here in Exeter. Plus, the families are kind, compassionate, loving, caring, and willing to support, assist and contribute to my family in any way they can. Although I am from a different island, the families treat me as one of their own with open hearts, open minds and open doors.
However, the mission of my ministry is seeking to find lost souls and gather disciples for the transformation of the world. Furthermore, to create families of faith wherein all persons are nurtured, loved, and respected regardless of the extent of one’s involvement. In contrast, the vision of my ministry is to plant new seeds for the future of the church and introduce the young generation to be part of worship and liturgy in preparation to accept the torch of stewardship for the future of the church.
Finally, my fellow readers, I seek to build an effective future for the church. This depends on how we open barriers or limitations among the old and new generation. This is an essential for a vital relationship to enable transition which marked the inheritance of the church from generation to generation so that chains of proclaiming the Word of God should persist to eternity. Therefore, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Vaitafa Heimoana is pastor at the United Methodist Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-3861.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.