Stories play an important part in our lives. We read stories to our children to help them fall asleep. We tell stories of our day over the dinner table. We recount stories of times long past with old friends at reunions.
Stories teach lessons from the past and create ideas for the future, and the greatest story of all, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives us hope and assurance for our eternity. This is the story the native children of Hawaii need to hear.
We think of Hawaii as a paradise, and it is! Beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and festive luaus. But there is a darker side to paradise: poverty. Due to their extraordinarily high cost of living, Native Hawaiians find themselves homeless at the highest rate per capita of any ethnic group in the nation.
Poverty, then, leads to homelessness, poor education, violence (in and out of the home), and hopelessness. Clarence DeLude, Native Hawaiian and LIM staff, with the staff and members of Trinity Lutheran in Wahiawa, Hawaii, want to spread hope.
This year, Trinity’s Vacation Bible School, the first after many years without a program, plans to reach outside its walls and embrace the community. The five weeks prior to VBS, Clarence and Trinity’s new Bible Study group will hold weekly prayer walks.
“The goal of the prayer walk,” Clarence explains, “is not to preach, but merely to offer prayers for our neighbors.” He hopes that the outcomes from this group outreach will be two-fold: that the local community, many of whom live in poverty, would begin to understand Christ’s love for them and see the church as a place where they are welcomed, and that the members of Trinity would become familiar with the area and see the needs present there.
“I would really love to see our prayer walks encourage parents and children to come to our VBS. I want to make them comfortable and see that their families don’t have to leave their traditions to follow Christ. It could be a great way for some of our neighbors to be introduced to Jesus,” says Clarence.
The Hawaiian culture, like most native cultures, is deeply based in oral history and storytelling. Children grow up learning the stories of their ancestors: young Kamehameha and the Naha stone, the greedy king Hala’ea, and the god, Kane, who created the first man by forming him from red dirt.
“My people have a beautiful creation story,” Clarence explains. “But the best part is how similar our stories are to those we find in the Bible, and it’s those stories that we need to bring to life for our children.” Whether it will be learning about creation in a place where God’s beauty abounds or comparing Jesus’ fishermen to Hawaiian fishing, Clarence hopes to really blend what Hawaiian children already know with biblical stories and lessons.
The hope for this summer: beautiful blendings, of Hawaiian culture and the saving grace of Jesus, of old friends and new relationships, and of hope and transformation in an area where people need it.