I grew up in a Christian family and was adopted by my grandmother. We were very poor and my parents migrated to New Zealand with two of my brothers and four sisters. I stayed in Tonga and went to school at GPS Nuku’alofa, and then went to Tupou College boarding school for my secondary schooling.
I came to know Jesus in November 1993 through a youth programme called ‘Young Warriors for Christ’. It was here I learnt the importance of Christian discipleship. I also met my wife ‘Ana in this ministry, in 1997.
In 1998, we went to the Youth with a Mission campus on Lafalafa and studied at the Discipleship Training School. After finishing our training, we went home on holiday, planning to get involved in leadership the following year.
While enjoying our holiday, ‘Ilaisia, the son of a Salvation Army officer, came to me and asked if we could form a band. I agreed and we played in the Heilala Festival, the biggest festival in Tonga.
The Nuku’alofa Corps Officer, Captain Mata’afa Fohe, then invited me to a Salvation Army Sunday meeting to play in the worship team, and I went with my family.
Afterwards, ‘Ana and I talked about how we felt about the service and The Salvation Army. We both agreed that we enjoyed the atmosphere. We returned for the evening meeting, and God clearly confirmed this was the place he wanted us to be. ‘Ana and I felt belonging and welcoming and knew we had found our destiny.
In my heart, I know that God called me to be a Salvation Army officer from the day I was born again, but I haven’t always seen this clearly. ‘Ana and I started by being very involved in the corps activities at Nuku’alofa. I become a senior soldier in 1999 and was much involved in youth leadership.
The corps officers encouraged us to apply to the School for Officer Training, but at that time we didn’t feel ready. We thought we were too young to be faifekau (pastors), as in Tonga these are generally older people.
We first applied in 2000 and were deferred for two years. During those two years, I received further confirmation that officership was what God was calling us to. The Scripture God used to make this clear was Matthew 9:37, in which Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.’ My prayer was, ‘If you can use anything, Lord, you can use us too.’
And so we entered training in Suva, Fiji, in 2003 and were commissioned in 2004. ‘Ana and I are currently the corps officers at Vaini Corps.
What gives me joy and strength in ministry is when I help or see someone come to know Jesus. I know that I am not the one doing the job; it is the Holy Spirit who leads me in all that I do.
I have learnt to submit everything that I have—gifts, talents and hobbies—to glorify God. Roman 12:1 says, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.’ In all I do, I want to honour Jesus, bringing glory and praise to God alone.
By Frederick (Fetu) Vaea (abridged from War Cry, 21 September 2013, p9)