Tongan ministry bears fruit
Mango Tree Church of the Nazarene, a new church planted through the ministry of the Mango Tree Respite Centre, held its first church service 17 November.
The planting of Mango Tree Church meets a need for authentic Christian worship in the area, according to missionary In-Kwon Kim.
“I have taught the Bible every Sunday afternoon for the past two years,” Kim said. “Each time about 30 to 40 people came.”
Eventually, worship was added to these gatherings to further disciple attendees.
The new church is an extension of the ministry of Mango Tree Centre that “Doc” and Charmayne Olds helped establish in 2005. The Olds, a retired Nazarene couple who were serving as missionaries in Tonga, recruited teams and raised funds to help construct a building on the main Tongan island of Tongatapu to help people with disabilities.
“The first challenge [we] faced was that there are many children with disabilities in Tonga but no rehabilitation therapists to treat them,” Kim said. “Physical and occupational therapy needed to be given to children with disabilities, especially children with cerebral palsy.”
Through the ministry of physical therapists from New Zealand and local volunteers, the Church of the Nazarene has been able to equip local residents to minister to those with disabilities, including transporting them to and from therapy sessions.
Mango Tree Center is the only organization in Tonga that provides rehabilitation services to children with disabilities, and Kim dreams of extending it to other Tongan islands.
“[We hope] to expand Mango Tree ministry to Vava’u, Ha’apai, and Eua to show the loving hands of Jesus to the disabled,” Kim said. “There, together with the Mango Tree ministry, the Church of the Nazarene will be established, and the Nazarene mission will be carried out throughout Tonga to share the Word of God to those with disabilities, their families, and those who did not know Jesus Christ.”