Monday, May 28, 2012

Going Deeper for the week of May 27

(Read John 16:5-15)

In this passage, Jesus tells us the Holy Spirit will bring conviction with regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.  It intrigues me that the conviction is not the type of conviction we might expect.  When we usually think of conviction we think of feeling bad about bad things we have done, but that is not what Jesus says the Holy Spirit will bring.

Rather the Holy Spirit will bring conviction with regard to sin because people don't believe in Jesus, with regard to righteousness because Jesus is going to the Father, and with regard to judgment because the prince of this world (read Satan) now stands condemned.  Each of these convictions points people to Jesus because He is the good news!

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday.  Pentecost is the day we remember how God sent the Holy Spirit to empower the church for worldwide witness.  In honor of that event and everything that has happened since, I would like to share the story of the mission to Hawaii.

A few weeks ago my wife and I visited Hawaii and while we were there we learned a fascinating story about the beginning of the mission in Hawaii.  Humanly speaking, the story begins with a young man named Henry, but spiritually speaking we know that this story, like all mission stories, begins with God.

In the early 1800's a young man named Henry (probably not his given name) Obookiah was being raised to follow in his grandfather's footsteps as a Kahuna (a tribal priest).  Since the task involved preparing sacrifices (even at times human sacrifices), Henry was not all that thrilled.  So he took the opportunity to board a whaling ship from New England and try his hand out in the world.

Eventually, Henry found himself in New England and after converting to faith in Jesus attended a small Bible college where he began to prepare to be a missionary to his people in Hawaii.  Henry prayed often that God would send His Holy Spirit to convict the people of Hawaii with regard to sin and righteousness and judgment and to lead them into truth.

As Henry prepared he also shared his heart's desire with others.  Soon he had a group committed to join Henry on the mission to Hawaii.

Unfortunately, in 1818, as excitement grew for the trip, Henry contracted typhus fever and died.  This sad turn of events could have ended the plans for the mission to Hawaii.  However because of Henry's prayers many in the group agreed to go forward with the mission.

With Henry's assistance they had already begun to form a dictionary for the Hawaiian language and learn how to speak in the language of the island's natives.  The preparations had been made and the mission left in 1819 and arrived in Hawaii in 1820 (almost one year after their departure).

But like I say humanly speaking this seems like a story about a man named Henry, but spiritually speaking we know it is a story about God.

In answer to Henry's prayers, God had already begun to work among the people in Hawaii.  In the time between Henry's departure from Hawaii and the arrival of the missionaries, the people had turned their backs on their traditional religion.  In addition, as they turned their backs on traditional religion they also began to seek truth and a reliable source of truth.  Moreover, they had received a prophecy that said a ship would land in their harbor with people who held a black box which would reveal to them the truth they sought.

So when the missionaries arrived in 1820, they not only spoke the native language, but they also found a people who had been prepared to hear and believe the truth about Jesus!

The church that was founded by the original missionaries still stands today and still holds weekly worship as well as houses a vibrant local congregation.  Also, Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has its training headquarters in that same town (Kailua Kona, Hawaii) where missionaries from all over the world are trained in evangelism and prayer and then sent out all over the world to witness to the truth about Jesus!

This story is amazing to me because it reveals once again that salvation is God's work, and that the mission on which we have been sent is not primarily our mission; it is and always has been God's mission.

May the Holy Spirit bring you comfort and peace even as He sends us out to share comfort and peace with others.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

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