Hawaii Is Still Calling
About eight years ago we used the name of a popular radio program- "Hawaii Calls" for the title of an article which was printed in the Gospel Guardian and in which we set forth our plans for moving to this island state to preach the gospel and appealed for help in fulfilling these plans. Our appeal was successful and now we will soon begin our ninth year of work in Hawaii. It seems that there are not too many people who are acquainted with our newest state and, in particular, with the condition of the church here. Cecil Willis, when he came through here with Roy Cogdill as they were on their preaching trip to the Philippines, suggested that we write an article to inform brethren concerning our work and the continuing needs for the preaching of the gospel here.
The islands of Hawaii became the fiftieth state in the Union in 1959, having been a territory since 1898. Basically, there are eight islands in the chain which are considered "Hawaii," although there are actually many other islands, reefs and shoals in the Hawaiian archipelago. The state's population of about 760,000 lives on the seven largest islands at the southeastern most end of the archipelago. About 625,000 of these people live on the main island called Oahu, with Honolulu as its principal city.
Hawaii's religious life is a reflection of the many different ethnic groups living on her shores. Missionaries of the Congregational church came to Hawaii from New England in 1820 to replace the idol worship of the ancient Hawaiians. Catholic priests arrived in 1839 and, after some difficulty, managed to get their work going. In 1850 the Mormons began their mission work in Hawaii and are today one of the strongest religious groups. When Chinese laborers arrived in 1852, the religions of China - Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism - came with them. The Japanese laborers, who began arriving in 1885, were Buddhists and Shintoists. The Filipinos, coming even later, were largely Catholic. Now, nearly all of the major denominations and sects are represented with churches on most of the islands.
The Lord's Church
Known history of churches of Christ can be traced back about forty years or so, and presently there are congregations on Oahu (6), Maui and Hawaii. Unfortunately, five of these congregations on Oahu and all the congregations on the neighbor islands are liberally oriented in their attitude toward the authority of the Scriptures with respect to present day institutions and innovations. Only the Leeward congregation in Waipahu on Oahu has taken a stand against modern liberalism and institutionalism and for the preaching of the truth in its original purity and simplicity.
The Leeward congregation was begun shortly after our arrival in January, 1963, and met for about a year and a half in Pearl City, then for a short while in Honolulu, and finally in Waipahu (about fifteen miles from downtown Honolulu) where a permanent meeting house was secured. The congregation was begun primarily because at the time there were some in the other congregations who felt they could no longer continue worshipping therein and who wanted to start a work where the truth in opposition to institutionalism could be preached to warn the brethren in the other churches of the direction in which they were going. Although several families came out of the other churches initially and some still occasionally leave them to join hands with us, no appreciable effect toward slowing down the growth of digression in the other churches has been noted.
Membership in the congregation has grown from the original eighteen Christians to about sixty-seven now and the Lord's Day morning attendance usually averages about 105 with the weekly contribution averaging about $220.00. Twenty-six of the members are permanent local residents of the state and the remaining forty-one are military men and dependents. The congregation is blessed with a sizable nucleus of Filipino members twenty in all - which makes possible an easier contact with the Filipino people living in the Waipahu community.
Several gospel meetings have been conducted in the eight year history of the church with the preaching being done by Warren Cheatham, Roy Cogdill, Arthur W. Atkinson, Jr., H. 0sby Weaver, Lowell Williams, James Needham and Cecil Willis. Several other faithful men have preached to the church while visiting here or as they were on their way either to or from other places in the Pacific area. A unique feature of the church's teaching program is the fact that classes are taught on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings and on Sunday evening an entire service is conducted in the Ilokano Dialect of the Filipino language for the benefit of the Filipino brethren who have difficulty understanding the English language.
The original small frame dwelling which was purchased for a meeting place in 1964 has been expanded and improved with the addition of a 30' x 54' auditorium and the original building converted to classrooms. It should serve the needs of the congregation for some time to come.
We plan to bring our work with the church here to an end sometime next summer, at which time we will have been here eight and a half years. At the present time we do not know where we will be going. In April of next year I will be returning to the Mainland to do the preaching in several meetings, one of which is scheduled for the first week of April in Alabama and another one for the last week of April in Kentucky.
The church here is looking for a man to take my place next summer and would be interested in hearing from any faithful preacher who would consider moving here to work with this congregation as an evangelist. The work needs a man who would be interested in doing a great deal of personal work, teaching home Bible classes, and helping to train others to teach the Bible.
Very frequently Mainland brethren come to Hawaii for conventions, vacations and on stop overs in their journeys to other places in the Pacific area and we are always happy to have them visit with us in our services. If you should be planning such a trip, we might suggest that care should be taken in arranging your stay in the islands to make it possible to be on the island of Oahu on the Lord's days as there are no faithful congregations on the neighbor islands. Travel agents and convention managers always seem to insist on making trips to the other islands on the weekends but, actually, it is much better to visit these islands during the week when the facilities (hotels, rental, cars, restaurants, etc.) are not in such great demand.
If you are planning a trip to Hawaii and will let us know ahead of time, we will be happy to send you instructions as to how to get out to our place for worship from where you will be staying either by car or bus, or we will be happy to pick you up and bring you out. The church meets in Waipahu, which is about fifteen miles from Waikiki (where most tourists stay) and about a thirty-minute drive. Or, if you will give us a call early enough on Friday or Saturday we will be happy either to give you instructions on how to drive out to our building or we will come after you on Sunday morning. The phone number at the church building is 677-4944 and at our home is 677-9512. Our Bible classes begin at 9:00 a.m., the assembly at 10:00 a.m. and the evening assembly at 6: 00 p.m.
Even though a beginning has been made in the work of upholding the truth in our fiftieth state, there remains much work still to be done. Hawaii is still calling. Just today as I was writing this article I received a call concerning a Filipino couple on the island of Maui who have been worshipping with the liberal church there but who are wanting someone to come there and help them in starting a sound congregation. In addition to the needs of the neighbor islands there are many heavily populated areas on the island of Oahu where good congregations need to be established and the truth preached. To this end we seek the prayers of our faithful brethren everywhere on our behalf that we may measure up to our own abilities and the opportunities before us in this state.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 9, pp. 5-7