Pastor Nafetalai Teaupa
I was born in the back of a truck and had to be resuscitated in the emergency room of the hospital, so my entry into this world literally began with a miracle. The story of my birth is one I have heard many times over growing up and I have never doubted that my burning desire to serve was a fire that had been ignited on that fateful day.
Having been born into a Christian family I am fortunate enough to have always known Christ. Christ has always been the Head of our family and at the age of 11, during the annual Easter camp held at our village Church in Tonga, I accepted Him as my Redeemer and personal Saviour. Words cannot express the overwhelming joy I felt when I finally submitted my all to Him. It was on this day that I fully and completely surrendered my heart, mind, body and soul to our Creator and it was also on this day that I confirmed and accepted His call to ministry.
When my family immigrated to Hawaii in 2007, I found myself in a foreign country with a different language and an unfamiliar culture. We had left a comfortable life in the islands only to start all over again with nothing. It was disconcerting and felt like a continuous struggle with new challenges and tribulations arising every day. In saying this, the Lord always provided and we were never without what we needed. The load was always bearable and the tears always sweet as we witnessed again and again that our Lord is a living God and he does not forsake us in our times of need. I entered high school when we arrived in Hawaii and soon had dreams of becoming a professional rugby player. Even though I had built a strong relationship with the Lord, I realise now that my familiarity with Him had rendered me lazy and I had started to stray from the path I was destined for.
After completing high school I felt a strong obligation to serve the country that had provided me with the great opportunities I could only have dreamed of had I stayed in Tonga. Because of this, I resolved to join the
Military and serve for 6 years with the intention to work towards becoming a Pastor upon my return from active duty.
Little did I know, God had set a fire alight in my heart to serve not only Him, but also my country.
In 2014 I attended the three day Walk to Emmaus retreat in Honolulu, Hawaii. I spent these three days completely immersed in God's grace and it ultimately changed my life. At the end of the retreat I came to the realisation that it was not a mistake that I had been taken from a tiny island country to the great United States of America and every trial and tribulation that I had thus encountered was all for a higher purpose. I had to make the decision to let go of my worldly desires and take up my cross and follow Jesus. And so it happened that on the final night of the retreat, amongst my brothers in Christ, I committed myself to finally becoming the servant God had always intended for me to be.
I always knew that serving my country was something that I have always wanted to do but I also know that God's will is always going to be my number one priority. The ultimate sacrifice that each soldier is willing to make for his fellow countryman makes me reminiscent of the price our Saviour had to pay for our sins. I have prayed and fasted asking the Lord to direct my path according to His will, enlightening me so that the correct decision on how and where I serve was made. It was after many days and nights of meditating and praying that my questions were answered. I discerned that God wanted me to fully prepare myself for His ministry before I committed myself to doing anything else. Because of this, I completed my undergraduate degree and am now working towards attaining a Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology.
Last year through His grace I became a commissioned US Naval Officer and as I continue to answer His call my soul continues to rejoice in His unfailing ever faithful love.