Langham Scholar Returning to Tonga

22 June 2009

By Ma’afu Palu, Langham Scholar studying in Sydney, Australia

As some of you know, I am married to Elizabeth and we have three boys, Tevita (9), Freddie (4) and Albert born this April. We’ve been here in Sydney four years now, studying for a PhD – thanks to the generosity of Langham Partnership Australia and the Sydney Anglican Diocese.

I praise God that the thesis has now been officially submitted! I am grateful for the insights and encouragements of my supervisors, Dr Brian Rosner of Moore College and Dr Chris Fleming of University of Western Sydney. Awaiting the results can be a nail-biting experience; nevertheless, it feels as if a load has been lifted off my shoulders. In hindsight undergoing a PhD had always been a stepping stone, a means to an end. I believe that I will always be first and foremost a servant of Christ, burdened with love for the Tongans and feel that I can do nothing else but preach and teach them the love of Christ, the love that he had shown me whilst I was still a sinner. Therefore, the PhD had always been a means to qualify myself in worldly terms so that I can not only better equip myself for ministering to the Tongans but also to proclaim the gospel in any possible way that I can, whether it be in preaching or writing (as is Langham’s vision). I am forever grateful for the part that Langham has played in enabling me to reach this point.

Palu familyNow as my family and I approach the end of our stay here in Sydney we are saddened and encouraged at the same time. Saddened to leave behind true friends, but encouraged that we will be putting into good use the newly acquired knowledge that we have gained here in Sydney.

At times it can be daunting to not be so sure of where we will be posted upon our return to Tonga but at the same time it is comforting to know that God is sovereign and He is in control of our future and wherever we will be placed he will use us to further his Kingdom. As an ordained minister of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, I will be told what the Bishop wants me to do in June this year, during the Annual Synod of the Methodist church.

Before we came to Sydney for the PhD, we worked in the Tongan Methodist Church Bible College for four years. That was quite a tough experience for us. A lot of opposition was encountered simply for teaching students that the Bible is true and that Jesus is still relevant for us today. However, with the PhD, we hope that things will be somewhat better for us. There are only three other ministers with PhDs in the Methodist Church of Tonga at the time being – all of whom occupy positions of leadership in the church. We don’t expect a position of leadership in the more immediate future but must be ready to convince our church leaders of our progress in the faith. Please pray that we will trust in God’s sovereignty at all times especially when things are tough for us.