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Finding joy and solidarity in Tonga

Judy Morrison, far right, with new and renewed Tongan friends. Photo by Alan Morrison
IN SEPTEMBER, eleven Queenslanders returned from a UnitingWorld InSolidarity trip to Tonga with a renewed appreciation of Pacific hospitality.

Team Leader, Judy Morrison, of Caloundra, said the group was overwhelmed by the Pacific Islander hospitality.

“The way they share absolutely everything is a real challenge to our lifestyle here at home,” she said.

The trip allowed the group to meet key leaders from the Tongan Free Wesleyan Church, as well as visit projects like the Lifeline Ministry, schools and theological college.

Ms Morrison, together with husband Alan, took on the task of guiding their colleagues (aged 69 to 81) on the 10 day expedition.

“The encounter made a big impression,” she said.

“The team saw that our church partners in Tonga are very active and greatly value our support.”

Team member Eric Lawson, a retired minister, agreed.

“We have often thought of ourselves as being missionaries to these countries, but the reality is that they have a strong tradition of taking the gospel message in appropriate ways to the other islands,” he said.

“They are a very competent people and open in their avowal of faith.

They have a particularly strong emphasis upon education and we’re pleased to be partnering with them through UnitingWorld.”

In the capital, Nuku’alofa, Rev Fili Lilo runs Lifeline Crisis Ministry, making contact with single mothers, prostitutes and
young men who have committed crimes in other countries and been deported back to Tonga.

In a culture where family honour is everything, these are the forgotten members of society, adrift and ashamed.

Ms Morison said the group’s interest, particularly in a ministry like Lifeline, which is new to the Tongan culture, adds credibility.

“We’re delighted to see that in this year’s Christmas Gift Catalogue, Everything In Common, the Lifeline Ministry is one of the featured gifts.”

For more information on UnitingWorld and projects supported by their Christmas gift catalogue visit www.everythingincommon.com

Photo : Judy Morrison, far right, with new and renewed Tongan friends. Photo by Alan Morrison