Seeking Missionary-Farmer

Kona Coast Nazarene

Seeking Staff Position for:



[Job Description, Accountability, and Responsibilities]



            Kona Coast Nazarene is a local church committed to reaching the lost, discipling the found, and modeling the Kingdom on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Given the contemporary challenges of ministry and the unique context of the various communities along the Kona Coast, KCN recognizes the necessity to respond appropriately to cultural, social, and relational differences within distinct communities.  Therefore, KCN is calling, equipping, and sending Missionary-Pastors to facilitate ministry development, equip local leaders, and invest in the health of their communities for eight identified mission zones along the West Coast of the Big Island.  The Missionary-Farmer will be working within the North Kona Mission zone under the leadership of the N. Kona Missionary-Pastor.

Missionaries are those called to vocationally respond to the Great Commission, making the Gospel contextually relevant and meaningful.  Farmers are committed to the health of both the land and its inhabitants through sustainable food production.  A Missionary-Farmer uniquely touches a growing need in North Kona to address declining health, food education, and cultural re-acclimation to the land among recent immigrant groups.

The Missionary-Farmer is a hybrid role—combining the practical and relational elements of farming with the commitment to making kingdom-focused disciples.  The Missionary-Farmer must be deeply committed to the working of God’s grace outside the walls of the church, culturally adept and able to assimilate to new cultures, possess knowledge of and ability to teach and learn various forms of sustainable agriculture, build a network of relationships across social and religious boundaries for the purpose of food development and health, submit to the local church body, and connect meaningfully with the Kona Coast Nazarene community.  The work of the Missionary-Farmer is viewed as an extension of Kona Coast Nazarene in the community, modeling the Kingdom of God for our neighbors. 



·      The Missionary-Farmer will report and be directly responsible to the N. Kona Missionary-Pastor.

·      The MF will welcome accountability from the Pastoral Team, which is a regular component of required staff meetings.

·      The MF is expected to be professional and perform his/her duties at the highest level of excellence.

·      Annually, the MF and the N. Kona Missionary-Pastor will work together on goals and reviews.



·      N. Kona Mission Zone

The first and most important role of the MF is to be sensitive to the cultural milieu of HI, assimilate into the local context of ministry, and begin to build relational bridges with local residents.

o   Farmer

The MF will organize a network of people devoted to food sustainability, health, and discipleship in various neighborhoods.  The MF must be well versed in various forms of gardening and agriculture, ability to learn and cultivate native food varieties, teaching local gardening/farming for reproduction, and creatively access new avenues for growing.

o   Missionary

Consistent with the mission of KCN, the MF contextualizes the Gospel in relevant ways, guiding others through growth in the Spirit as they form relationships in the community through farming/gardening.  The MF will use food growing, food and health literacy, meal prep, and diet and nutrition as vehicles to develop community and discipleship opportunities.

While KCN promotes “organic” discipleship, the MF is expected to establish and work toward objective ministry goals that fit within the measurable parameters of church ministry.  (Ex: bible study, prayer gatherings, discipleship clutches, missional communities, compassion projects, etc.).  These goals will be established and reviewed annually.

o   The MF will be given leeway to think creatively for any entrepreneurial investment that may uniquely aid in the whole health of our neighbors.  

·      Kona Coast

o   The MF is on the KCN Pastoral Team and is expected to invest in the accountability of that team through attendance at and contributions to team fellowships and staff meetings.

o   The MF is expected to believe in and embody the mission and vision of KCN, which includes participation and implementation in the Three C’s framework—Discipleship Clutches, Missional Communities, Church Celebrations.  This assures consistency in ministry along the coast and strengthens KCN’s impact on the Big Island.

o   The MF will participate and invest in appropriate KCN events intended for the whole Kona Coast.


Interested Applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Eric Paul at  To learn more about Kona Coast Nazarene, visit  

Paul Family Ministry Update

Dear Family & Friends,


Aloha!  We wanted to share a little ministry update with you.  A lot has happened since we’ve written beyond the general blog format (which is still the best place for continual updates and stories on our life in Hawaii).  We’ve decided to stay put in our transitional space in the parsonage for now.  Eric even worked through his first big construction project by building a screened in lanai for a little more breathing room.  We’ve begun to finally feel as if this is our home.  Eric is still working at the coffee shop downtown, even doing some of the small batch roasting for the company, and Joy is establishing meaningful relationships through the local Le Leche league and young family playgroups.  And, we’re both learning to juggle two kids.

            As you know, we transitioned to Hawaii while Joy was 20 weeks pregnant.  Upon arrival, we quickly interviewed midwives and started our birthing class with Pastor Ryan’s wife, Bohdana Fasani, as our Doula.  We are so grateful for the Fasani family as a positive presence in Joy’s pregnancy.  We welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Micah Abraham Paul, on Saturday morning January, 18.  It’s now been two months and Micah and Joy are both doing extremely well.  Micah’s birth allowed us to focus on the health of our family during the first few months in a new place.  We believe this intentional time to transition slowly better allowed us to healthily begin our new ministry here in Kona.

            We have now passed the six-month mark, and we are beginning to understand better our presence here.  As Missionary-Pastors, we are a physical extension of Kona Coast Naz, particularly, and of the Kingdom of God, more broadly, in our community.  There are several ways that this can be done, and we’ve begun to focus our work into three spheres: Discipleship, Leadership Training, and Community Development.  In many ways, these three spheres intertwine in ministry on the ground and can’t be separated from one another. 

            Discipleship is the backbone of the church.  The call of the Christian is one of faithful obedience to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  When we intentionally make disciples, the church will thrive and the Kingdom of God will break-in.  Eric continues to preach once a month, and we both help with the keiki during our Sunday Celebrations.  Furthermore, Kona Coast Nazarene has created a unique curriculum, mindful of this context, for calling and making disciples called a Discipleship Clutch.  Joy and I are currently participants and intend to lead our first Clutch in the middle of the summer.  

            Leadership Training is essential for any sustainable ministry.  Missionaries in particular ought to be looking toward the next generation of Christian leaders from among the community.  Because of the diversity of our context in Kona, we are currently in the process of identifying and training five individuals called to ministry from various ethnic communities around town.  We have identified two such leaders for our Samoan Church plant and Brazilian Church plant.  These churches will come under the guidance and support of Kona Coast Nazarene for a time before being sent in mission to the community. 

            Community Development, we believe, represents the work of restoring relationships in all their religious, social, and economic complexity.  Scripture is ripe with examples of God’s restoration and healing of broken relationships between individuals and communities.  We want to take this large Kingdom-of-God picture seriously in our present location.  Currently, this looks a lot like community assessment work.  Because we are so new, we are still learning our community’s strengths, weaknesses, hurts, pains, and hopes.  We believe being attentive to the community’s past history and current story will better enable our church community to be God’s presence in this place. 

            We hope this gives you a glimpse of the work we’ve begun and where we are heading.  For those who remember us in prayer, support us financially, send encouraging notes, and share our story with others, we are eternally grateful.  Be sure to check out Joy’s current 30 challenge to post everyday on the blog:

            Finally, as the Christian Church journey’s together toward the Cross and Resurrection during this Lenten season, we hope and pray that Christ renews your spirit, pours his grace over you, and is ever present even in the midst of this world’s struggle. 


Grace & Peace,

Eric and Joy Paul

Birth Day

We are so excited to announce the birth of our sweet SON! What a surprise, in so many ways.  Eric and I went to bed Friday night with no signs of potential labor.  Here's a brief timeline of events:

  • I woke up at 3:00am with mild contractions every 10 minutes.  
  • I woke Eric at 3:30.  He promptly told me to go back to sleep :)  
  • I got up at 4:00 and made pancakes.  
  • Eric got up at 4:30, joined in the pancake making process, and made coffee.
  • At 5:00 my contractions were every 3 minutes, but not intense.  We were still carrying on a conversation in the kitchen and trying to decide how many pancakes to make (we were suppose to be attending a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning - and contributing the pancakes).  Because the contractions were regular and frequent, we decided to go ahead and notify our birth team.
  • We are so thankful, and honored, to have Bohdana Fasani attend our birth.  She arrived shortly after 5:00 and served a multitude of purposes... including making some of our pancakes! 
  • Around 5:30 I threw up and contractions became more intense.  I did not return to the kitchen :)
  • Eric gave almost an hours worth of back massage. 
  • At 6:15 am we welcomed a baby boy (Jan 18, 8 lbs 2 oz)
  • At 7:00 Justice woke up to a brother :) 

I think we spent most of Saturday in shock and awe.  And attempting to rest, and calling our family.  We are adjusting well.  Justice adores her brother and wants to give endless kisses.  She seems to understand when baby "needs mama" and wants to be close.  However, she also wants to play with mama, and run outside, and go the beach, and do all the things we've been doing for the past few months... and that's been difficult.


Eric has been fabulous. I feel much more normal than I did following Justice's birth, which makes me want to participate in household things... like doing laundry, and taking Justice to the bathroom, and the dishes, etc.  But Eric encourages me to rest, and reminds me that if I don't it'll catch up to me.  Yesterday he took Justice on a morning"date," which was fabulous enough on it's own, as it allowed me a few hours of quiet and snuggling with the baby.  AND THEN they came home with special snacks for mama, and chocolate turtles, and a decaf frappacino!  Oh, the pampering :)


So the name thing... No, we haven't named our son yet.  And No, this is not a point of tension in our home.  We, like almost all parents, want our son's name to be special and meaningful.  To put it simply, we haven't found the right name yet.  Right now, we call him one of these: baby brother, sweet boy, son, precious, love, strong one, or Baby Smash.  You can rest assured that when we do name our son, you will know, and you'll even get a post with the meaning behind the name.


Advent Reflection

(Warning: Theological Content to follow).

Every year Joy and I prepare for Christmas in what has become a traditional way.  After Thanksgiving (and not before), we take out a small box of Christmas decorations: two nutcrackers, family ornaments, stockings, and a nativity.  We bake gingerbread cookies, make hot cocoa, and set the music to Over the Rhine’s “Snow Angels” as we decorate the tree.  Gingerbread cookies, Snow Angels, and the movie Children of Men only appear during the weeks leading up to Christmas, during the season of Advent, filling the weeks prior to Advent with a type of anticipation of its own. 

Advent is my favorite time of year.  This holy time marks, for me, a special moment of both reflection and preparation, of contemplation and action.  During this time, our memories are jarred once again to the notion that God has come in Jesus, is present with us, and will come again. Alongside Mary, we celebrate the annunciation of the Coming Lord.  We celebrate what God has already done.  And like Simeon, we wait in eager expectation of the fullness of God’s righteousness to be completed on earth as it is in heaven.  We celebrate and long for what God has yet to do.


This year, we added another Advent portion to the season.  We pulled together an Advent walk through scripture, a reading in the Gospels, Prophets, or Psalms each day of the week, and two on Sunday.  Each morning at breakfast, we have Justice open up the next colorful envelope and hand the card to mama or daddy.  She recognized early that the last card, the one marked 25, is the only Pink card on the line.  About a week ago, she started asking whether we could open the Pink one.  We tell her that it isn’t yet time, that it will be opened, and that she needs to be patient.  And yet, almost like a prayer, she continues to ask whether she can open the Pink one.

It’s amazing how children help guide us during these times.  Something as simple as one color by itself can fill a child with anticipation.  Her waiting for that envelope is not unlike our waiting for the Coming Lord.  This year, two revelations have been restored in my thoughts while traveling through Advent.

1). Advent/Christmas remains a time we remember the radical nature of a Missionary God. 

Perhaps because Joy and I live into the vocational calling of “missionaries,” I’m continually struck by the missionary nature of the Incarnation.  That is, God sent the Son to be with us in order to reconcile all of creation to be one with its Creator.  In the Gospel of Matthew, the words of Isaiah ring forth: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Immanuel, which means God with us.”  And Philippians 2 adds that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to hold on to, but rather became like us. 

Most Christians understand that a wide gap exists between God and humanity.  That is, we are not God.  And yet, God chooses to enter into our existence, into the depths of humanity and even death, in the person of Jesus.  It is then, through Jesus that we understand God’s nature as a God-on-the-move.  God is on the move to restore, redeem, heal, and reconcile the brokenness of our lives and bring them into a loving fullness described as abundant life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw describe it like this, “God is set loose in the world for mission, fully as God and man. God’s very presence is bursting out into the world in and through the death of the Son” (38).  The Incarnation is a missionary act.  God’s movement toward us describes the mission of God to redeem the world. And it is a movement that we ought emulate.

2). The missionary act of entering into a new culture is one met with waiting and patience. 

Advent remains that time of year in which the church remembers that we are a people between time, an “already but not yet” community that both mourns the brokenness around us and anticipates the new life that has already come and is coming through Jesus of Nazareth.  In Matthew, we read parables of waiting and readiness (Matthew 25).  We are told to anticipate and be ready for the Coming of the Lord.  The way the church prepares for this coming is by living in the present the kind of Life that God, in Jesus, proclaims.  We are to be a visible marker of the Kingdom of God for the world to see.  In this way, the church is an extension of the incarnation for the sake of the world.  And yet, we are grieved by the amount of death, brokenness, sickness, and isolation all around us.  We live in the tension between the brokenness of our communities and the patient hope of renewed life through Jesus Christ.

Joy and I spent 3 months in a type purgatorial waiting.  Between ending jobs in Nashville, moving out of our apartment, and living in my mother-in-law’s basement, we spent a fair amount of time waiting to move to Hawaii.  But once here, we’ve found a whole new meaning for being patient. Learning a new culture, meeting new people, establishing new friendships, and beginning a new ministry position (all while anticipating the birth of our second born), all takes a lot of time. Through it all, the hurts and pains of our neighbors are becoming even more realized.  Our prayers are becoming more poignant, more invested in this place.  We truly believe that we are a part of a team and a church that that will witness faithfully to God’s Kingdom come here on the Kona Coast, but a lot of our work is still very much preparatory.  

Advent has once again reminded me of the need to be patient; that God’s Kingdom does not come by my ability and skill, but only through the grace and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Advent has allowed me to slow down, recognize the importance of my presence-for-others, and truly live into the call of missionary.

Parenting to My Weakness

Parenting can be such a battle at times.  And challenging.  But also joy-filled and awe-inspiring. One of the inspiring things we've witnessed lately is Justice's love of music.  The girl is captivated.

We have sung to Justice since before she was born.  We know that music has had a soothing effect when she's tired, or a calming effect when we choose the right song.  The past few months we've had a lot of fun singing songs with motions.  And most recently, Justice has taken dance to a whole new level.

It's not uncommon for Justice to pick up a random object or toy, pretend it's a guitar, and ask one of us to sing; or tap her fingers on the table and call it a piano; or lay in bed for an hour before falling asleep, singing her favorite songs to her animal friends.  Recently we went to a small town Christmas festival, and along the street were various artists singing, playing ukeleles, or dancing hula. She loved it all.  And then we passed a woman playing a harp.  Justice was mesmerized.  We were close enough to touch it (and eventually did), but her eyes were still so big as she took in the beautiful music coming from the strings.

It has been fun to sing and dance with Justice.  To teach her songs, to hear her request her favorites, to watch her "teach" her animals.  But to be honest, it's also a little frightening.  I have zero musical talent, struggle to keep a beat, and my knowledge of instruments is severely limited.  As a parent, how do I foster this love Justice so clearly has, when I don't have the talent or the skill?  Or worse yet, will my ineptitude hinder her?

I know she's only two, we have a long way to go, and it's possible this musical infatuation is only a phase.  Either way, I don't want to be in the way of something that could be a life-long love.  And more importantly, Justice will surely have other skill sets that I don't share.  So I'm interested, parents, in your feedback.  How have you fostered a skill your child possesses that you don't?  In my particular example (music) the most obvious answer is to put her in a music class.  So let's get creative.  When finances are tight, what else have you done?  Books (or CDs) from the library? Exchange services with a friendly, and talented, neighbor?  What other suggestions do you have?

Family Health

We are learning a lot about the health of our family these days.  I thought I would take a minute to share, and also invite you, the reader, to share your ideas with us.

I know the reality of "family health" will be ever evolving as we walk through various stages of life.  The two most obvious factors for us to consider currently are our marriage, and having young children.  The best marriage advice I've received is this: Marriage is a living organism.  It must be nurtured in order to survive/thrive.  I'm most interested in my marriage thriving.

Our transition to a new culture, new jobs, new child on the way, etc. has lead to a few changes in our regular routines.  Eric and I are certainly not experts, but we are faithfully and prayerfully trying.  One of our biggest adjustments (as I imagine would be the biggest adjustment for any family in a big move) has been learning the rhythms and patterns of a new job.  And in our case, one of us (me) not having a job for the first time ever.  Eric's job as a barista has planned, scheduled hours.  This is easy to work with.  But our jobs as missionaries are different.  As a little side note, we see our missionary work as team work.  We are both committed, we keep each other informed, we brainstorm and pray together.  We value one another's opinions, viewpoints, and perception of this world.  But on a very practical level, Eric does a lot more "work" than I do.  During this stage of life, I'm home with Justice.  Eric schedules meetings in the community nearly every day, and the bulk of what society perceives as "work" falls on Eric's shoulders to carry out.

This balance of work (as missionary) and home is a new one for us to navigate.  How do we remain faithful both to our work, and to our family when we don't have scheduled "hours." And when community events and church celebrations often fall on Saturdays and Sundays.  If we forget to make our family just as much a priority as our work, this balance is very easily tipped.  It's easy to work 7 days/week.  When Eric is scheduling meetings with community leaders, he schedules them during daytime hours.  But when he's attending public meetings like those for Habitat of Humanity, they are in the evening.  If we're not paying attention, our schedules are full.  I imagine you can live like this for awhile.  After all, we're doing Kingdom work, right?  Isn't "God's work" most important?

We believe our marriage, and our family, are also God's work.  Even more, we believe our marriage and our family are no less important than "professional work."  In fact, modeling for those around us what it means to be healthy as a family is an intricate part of our work in the community.  When we sit down to collaborate our calendars each week, we schedule family time.  Most of the time, it's scheduling a trip to the beach because we know our girl will love it.  If possible, before we schedule the week's meetings and appointments, we block out a chunk of family time.  Because of the barista job, this isn't on a consistent day.  It's unfortunate, but it's doable.  We also have created a standing date-night for the two of us.  Sometimes the days are long and the weeks are longer.  Sometimes I just want to sleep.  But our date nights are important.  Oh, so incredibly important.

One other thing I haven't mentioned yet is the necessity for individual time.  Ironic, because I'm using mine right now :)  We know that for our individual health we need a few minutes each week to be alone.  It looks different for each of us.  Sometimes I want to go for a long walk.  Today, I want to sit at a coffee shop with my computer and a journal.  Eric often times wants a book and music.  Or sometimes he wants to surf.  Because we understand how renewing this time is for ourselves, we are generous in creating that time for the other.

So how does this all come together?  I guess I've outlined three things we do every week to create a healthy balance for us.  Family fun, date nights, and individual time.  God doesn't want us to burn out, and we don't want to either!  I'm curious to know what others are doing?  What boundaries are particularly helpful for your family to remain healthy?  What activities have made your "top 5" list?  As our girl grows, and as our family grows numerically, what others will become necessities?  One I foresee in the not-too-distant-future are date-times with our daughter.  As Justice becomes a big sister, and also as she grows as a person, she will need these times too.  She will need family fun time, she will need Daddy-Justice time, and she will need Mama-Justice time.  I don't know what that will look like, but I know it will be important. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Justice Turns Two!

It seems to us that Justice became a toddler pretty quickly.  Since we've moved to Hawaii, Justice's vocabulary has expanded ten fold, her movements are more steady and pronounced, and her independent self-will has emerged in full force.  Her rapid development has left us bewildered, frustrated, and laughing all at the same time.  She is testing her boundaries and yet still wanting to be close to mama and daddy.  She is at times disobedient, but wants to cuddle after being sent away to "get happy."  She laughs often and cries occasionally.  She bumps her head everyday and skins her knee almost as often.  She wants to kiss all of daddy's scrapes and bruises and wants to listen to the baby growing inside mama.  She is filled with wonder at the small things and has reached a new level of imaginative play.  In short, she's now a two year old.

And we couldn't feel more blessed!  Justice has brought us such joy.  There are times when I think that I couldn't possibly have more love to give to another child, because Justice has stolen it all.  I love the way she declares to the world every morning from her crib, "I'm Awake!"  I love that books are still a favorite thing.  I love the way her eyes get big when she gets to take a big kid shower.  I love those moments right before bed when she sits next to me for story time.  I love those quiet nights when she's sleeping peacefully (don't all parents?).  I love the way she tries to mimic the way I walk, the words I say, or the faces I make.  I love the little quarks that are hers: walking to the bathroom to cough, the strut of a walk that belongs uniquely to her, and how she won't sleep unless we sing the Happy Song.  I love that she kisses both my cheeks before bedtime.  She has grown so much in two years, and we are grateful parents.  We are proud, overwhelmed at times, and filled with love. 

The Tale of Joy and a Job

I've been asked a few times recently about the status of working at the local elementary school.  I wish I had progress to share, but instead I just have news. I talked with the principal this week, who explained that my substitute application (which begins with an interview at a local school) has now been sent to the district office, and from there is sent to the Honolulu office. I turned in my paperwork over a month ago, and I have no way of knowing where in this process my paperwork sits.  Though she assured me this timeline is normal, I'm not resting assured.  In the same conversation we spoke (again) about volunteering, and I am willfully hopeful to start this coming week.  Though I cannot wrap my brain around the slow, somewhat lethargic, response to a VOLUNTEER with experience and a degree eagerly waiting to be put to work, this also raises other questions about our life.

What does this mean for me (Joy) working for pay?  Most likely, it means I won't be working this school year.  I'm 8 weeks from my due date, and then I'll have a new baby to take all my sleep awaylove on. I will gladly volunteer the time I have, and sincerely hope to help some struggling students this year, but the level of consistency I can offer over the next 6 months is seriously lacking.

Can't I just try another school?  Yes, I can.  I can try a private school.  However, we see our role as missionary pastors largely as connecting with the community.  Eric can do this in several ways, through committees and fellowship meals and meetings and working at a local coffee shop, etc. My biggest resource to offer is through education.  I'm passionate about kids having the opportunity to learn, and so many children are first/second generation immigrants.  They need the language support, and that's where the majority of my training is.  These kids are in the public school.  I DON'T think I'll work in a public school forever.  I DO think there are other, more creative ways to assist students and their families.  I just think this is a good place to start, to meet people working in the (education) trenches on daily basis, and to asses the need a little closer. 

Will we make it on Eric's income?  Well, no.  But will we make it on Eric's income + financial support from generous donors?  YES!  To be perfectly honest, the cost of living difference still has us a bit shocked.  Nearly everything is more expensive here.  We can say with confidence we are frugal spenders and we are saving where we can.  One decision that will help us this first year is we've decided to make our "transitional housing" into permanent housing. More accurately, the church has offered us our "transitional" housing space to rent for one year.  This is not what we planned on, nor what we hoped for, but we are peaceful in our decision to stay.  As we near our baby's due date, I am particularly happy to know where we will live when the babe enters our world and excited to do what we can to make this place home.

How are we feeling about the change in projected finances?  Some days we get a bit worried.  Most days we carry on as normal.  Every day we trust God's leading.  We know we are here on purpose, and not by accident.  Currently, we are not in jeopardy of running out of money (don't worry, Mom!), but this might be a different story next June.  We are grateful for those who have supported us during this first year, which affords us the time to think through our fundraising efforts for year 2 and 3.  Right now we're doing fine, actively budgeting for the future, and eagerly expecting baby #2.

Miloli'i Video

Eric took a few short video clips of another KCN mission zone a few weeks back.  This is Miloli'i.  Kona Coast Naz has been visiting Miloli'i once a month to pray for the community.  Eric took these videos so I could get a glimpse of this community.  But we decided to compile them and post here as a SHOUT OUT to another Missionary-Pastor family who will call Miloli'i (and neighboring community Ocean View) home in just 2 weeks!!  The Boyarski's arrive in Hawaii in LESS THAN 2 weeks! You can read their story and learn more about our team by visiting their blog here.  Enjoy!

Celebrating Eric

Last week was Eric's birthday, and we had a fun few days celebrating!  Eric got snorkel gear for his birthday, so we borrowed a second set and the two of us went snorkeling.  We weren't out long, but we had a great time together, snorkeled at a fabulous location (Honaunau Bay, "Two Step"), and Justice enjoyed playing with a friend while we were away.  So thankful for generous friends!

On Eric's actual birthday we had dinner with the Fasani's, and they surprised Eric with a birthday pumpkin, poster, and homemade ice cream! Good friends, good food, good times.

And the next day, Eric and I turned our regular date-night into a birthday celebration dinner, again thoroughly enjoying our time with just the two of us.

We are grateful for the friends we have made and the love they have showed us, making this a special birthday for all.  I took some time to reflect with Eric on the past year of life.  We've certainly had some adventures and I never would have imagined a year ago we'd be celebrating life in Hawaii.  But I'm so glad we are.  Here's to another year of adventure, fun, deeper love, stronger trust, and following God's guidance in our lives.  Oh, and probably a lot less sleep...

A Week in Pictures

Video Blog #3

We know there's a buzz in the background, you might want to turn your volume down a little before you begin watching.  Once again, we're amateurs.  We promise the videos will get better (in quality) the more we practice making them.

The Revival will Come from the Margins

A friend of mine asked me last week, "Is the church obsolete?"  It's a loaded question for sure, and one that probably needs a little nuance and context, but it's a question worth engaging.  My answer to said question was one of perspective.  We are currently living in a moment in which the church no longer dictates the social, political, or moral leanings of society.  The story of Jesus as found in scripture is no longer normative for many of our neighbors.  As such, many from the centers of power, the people of influence, the academic machine, and the economic systems have longed judged the church as obsolete, even antiquated.  Who needs a concept of Christian salvation when the nation state and corporations have already saved us?  That's one perspective.

Then there's the perspective of those on the periphery of society, the oppressed, the poor, the forgotten, those people and people groups who have been marginalized by the power brokers of our time.  Historically, revival begins on the margins, from grass-roots engagement with the deep social needs in a community.  Charles Finney, John Wesley, and our own Nazarene founders, like Phineas Bresee, all patterned their revival movements around the concept that social consciousness, communal justice, and individual holiness are intertwined.  Indeed there is no view of the Kingdom that allows a gospel devoid of changed social relationships.

When one testifies to a changed life, the forgiveness of sin, and inward renewal of the Spirit toward Christ likeness, we call it conversion. When a group of people have devoted themselves to each other, their neighbors, and their community in love, allowing God to give new ways of living and seeing together that transforms our daily existence, we call it revival. Often times, the prompting of change occurs in a deep experience or interaction with marginalized people. When we read through scripture God continues to point toward the possibility of Spirit lead renewal through people otherwise forgotten by history: slaves, fishermen, zealots, Gentiles, and women. Out of these groups, we have movements of political and social liberation, new economic relationships, human dignity afforded to those culturally on the outskirts, hospitality extended to strangers, and forgiveness granted to enemies. For the church to embody these practices to our neighbors with the faith gifted to us by The Lord, revival would not be far off. In fact, for those in desperate need of belonging, forgiveness, honesty, social inclusion, economic equality, and purposeful work, the church is anything but obsolete.

One of Kona Coast Nazarene's core values states, "We are a Revival People."  In other words, we expect God to do something new, to change our vision, to transform our pattern of living, and as a result use this church to transform our neighbors and neighborhoods into demonstrations of the Kingdom.  One direction we're heading within my own mission zone (N. Kona), are working with the most recent and fastest growing immigrant populations: Marshallese, Micronesians, Hispanic, and Samoan people groups.  A revival church places itself alongside these communities and people on the periphery.  A missionary church inhabits the borders built to exclude.  As missionary-pastors we are working to blend into this social milieu and, while there, begin to define the gifts and needs of the communities and identify local leaders for training, discipleship, and ministry.  For us, it is not out of the realm of possibility to see a church plant within each of these communities, lead by a local leader, and supported by the staff of Kona Coast Naz.

The Sewing Itch

Eric's been on Oahu this week for church meetings, which has left me with time of solitude. I visited this fabric store out of necessity, looking for a Halloween costume for Justice.

Then I tried really hard to stay awake during nap times the past 3 days and it paid off!

It's been several months since I've sewn, and apparently it's going to take me a while to learn again.  I started with a frustrating tension problem with the pumpkin costume, and ended up just going to bed for the night.  The next day I figured that out, and the pumpkin was pretty simple.

Then we took a trip to Goodwill for some t-shirts I could re-fashion into skirts.  I was so excited to have a few more comfy skirts during this last trimester of pregnancy that I started with my own.  Admittedly, I was kind of "winging it" based on an idea I saw online.  Well, it didn't work.  Actually, it worked, but was way too small for this growing body.  Oops.

So I went on to Justice's, figuring I couldn't go wrong, and it turned out great.  I have a few more t-shirts in the sewing pile, so I'm sure it won't be long until Justice has a few more.  And when I regain some confidence, I'll try another for myself as well.  For today, I'm just grateful I only spent $0.99 on that goodwill shirt!

What Do You Hope For?

The men from Judah said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
— Nehemiah 1:3-4

As I begin to meet with church members and community members, listening to their stories of living in Kona, their family dynamics, work environment, and social relationships, I have a few questions that help guide our conversations.  One of the most important questions I ask is one of the simplest questions.  What do you hope for; what do you dream to see happen in this community?

The question almost always gets at a deep desire within a person.  This question helps me see their passion.  I'm convinced the majority of people are not as apathetic as they may first appear; rather, there is a latent hidden passion within all of us.  We all care about something.  We all would give up a certain amount of time or money to be able to do something we care deeply about.  In many cases, we already do this.  A mom values her child's education so chooses to volunteer in the local school.  A dad values both bodily health and time with his son, so he takes him surfing once a week- carving out time from work to make it happen.  We spend time and money on that which we value.  

But the question can also point toward that which gives us pain.  In other words, asking for what we ultimately hope can give us insight into what is worth weeping over.  When Nehemiah heard about the plight of the Jewish refugees, his heart was broken, so broken that he spent days fasting and praying.  He assumed the brokenness of his fellow brothers and wept.  Asking for what we hope is the optimistic way of asking, "What makes you weep?"  When you look out over your city and community, does your heart break for those living there?  Do we know our communities and neighbors well enough to allow this to happen?  Or, are our hearts so hardened to the Spirit that we would rather ignore and bypass communal suffering?  Only a church willing to weep over the wounds of the community will approach that community in the humility that engenders transformation and healing.

When we read through Nehemiah we see that his grief cultivated a renewed spirit of work.  His grief was channeled into a type of prophetic energy that led to the transformation and peace of the city of Jerusalem.  His weeping turned into a hopeful practice of rebuilding the city walls.  If someone were to ask Nehemiah what he hoped for, we could intuit his answer stemming from his grief of a city in disrepair.  The King asks Nehemiah, "Why do you look sad, what do you want?"  In other words, what will turn your sadness into Joy (Neh. 2)?  And he grants Nehemiah safe passage back to Jerusalem, the resources to build the walls, and the time necessary to do it well.  

As I encounter those on the Kona Coast, my eyes and ears are being tuned to weeping and hoping. My prayer is that we as a community may be granted the resources and time to bring about the kind of redemptive change that stems from such tears.  

A Week in Pictures

What Do You See?

We've been in Hawaii now for three weeks, and I'm beginning to be asked the question, "What are you doing?"  And while I understand the sentiment behind this question- the longing for some kind of change to be immanent, the new haole* face that is both hopeful and suspect in the same smile- I can't help but think the more appropriate question might be, "What do you see?"

It's really easy to jump into a situation and start doing a bunch of stuff without taking the time to observe.  For those who are driven to be a part of any kind of social and spiritual transformation, the slowness of listening is borderline drudgery.  We fool ourselves into thinking that our doing equates to positive movement.  Not all movement is equal, especially in relation to a new context with different issues, different people, and different identities.  If we don't take the time to observe and learn, our hasty actions may cause more harm to those with whom we wish to be friends.

Learning to see is always the first step in any work.  We must ask the question, "What's going on here?"  How does the story of this community in Kona relate to the story God's redemptive work?  And, we can't understand how God is moving and will continue to move in this place unless we first understand this place.  Joy and I enter into this community like infants, dependent on the community to teach us their pattern of life, their culture.  If we don't take this time, remaining blind to the nuances of life in Kona, our ministry here won't be effective.  Without dedicated time to observe, we will continue to carry our cultural heritage and language over/against this place, expecting conformity to our way of doing things. 

Ultimately, our guide is Christ's move into humanity- the Incarnation.  Just as God fully immersed God's self into our state of living, taking on human flesh and the cultural heritage of Jewish life and all the social and political instability of first century Palestine, we too must fully immerse ourselves into a different culture, allowing our cultural blindness to be restored.  We must be given new eyes.

Pastor Ryan is in the middle of series on Vision.  He preached, "Our witness to this community cannot begin with a crow bar, using texts to prove people wrong, but with our posture praying, 'My Lord and My God.'"  For us, this means entering into this place with humility.  We do not want to force our way into change, especially when we do not yet understand the measure of change that God desires.  And that's the rub, we know God is working here in Kona.  We know God has gone before us preparing people and places for our arrival.  We know there is a general darkness in need of Christ's light.  The Kingdom of God is real, physical, tangible transformation that can be seen and touched through God's people.  But we need to first learn what God's salvation looks like in this place.  What needs saving?  What gifts and graces in the community are latent and just need to be watered?  What powers need to be critiqued and countered, and who are the ones who have been marginalized and oppressed by those powers?  Who are the ones open to our presence in this place?  What work of God has started already that we can join?

The next few months, we'll be in the process of receiving new eyes.  And we'll be sharing some of our observations and reflections with you as we learn to see again.

* Haole is the term used in Hawaii for foreigners, tourists, mainlanders, or just plain old white folk.