Last November, Tandem held a “bootcamp” (kickoff for our new staff training program) in Auckland for our new staff, in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. One of those staff members who attended was Viliami, a young Tongan man who had just finished his studies in Information Systems at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji. Once he has all of his financial support he will complete his training in Fiji, before hopefully returning to Tonga to help lead the ministry to Tongan students at the USP campus in Nuku’alofa.
While Viliami was at this bootcamp training, he began chatting to one of our staff and found out about the digital strategies that Tandem has been working on to help us minister to people in our rapidly changing digital world. This conversation led to a meeting with Karl Udy, our digital strategies coordinator while Viliami was in Auckland. Karl shared some of the tools that were being used and developed in Tandem with him, and talked about which strategies and tools would be most useful to help reach the Pacific Islands with the good news. One tool that Karl showed Viliami was GodTools, which is a mobile app with simple gospel presentations in multiple languages. Karl pointed out that GodTools does not have any Tongan content and asked Viliami if he knew anyone who would be able to help translate the gospel presentations into Tongan. Viliami volunteered to do this, and that very week started translating the Knowing God Personally presentation into Tongan. By the middle of December, the translation was finished and published on GodTools. Before the end of the month, Viliami was training people in Tonga how to share their faith using GodTools!
During December while he was catching up with some Christian friends who he normally saw at that time of the year, he showed them how they could use their phones to share their faith by using the Knowing God Personally presentation in Tongan on GodTools. They really liked having the gospel presentation in their mother tongue and were very encouraged to share the gospel using their phones as a result.
Viliami regularly uses GodTools to share the gospel in Tongan with people he meets. Just this week he used GodTools to share the gospel in Tongan with a student from the USP campus in Nuku’alofa.
Nowadays most people in Tonga have smartphones, and many of those people, especially those not on the main island, are fluent only in Tongan, so they see the value of tools like this. This week Viliami will be training some evangelism trainers from churches around Tonga how to share the gospel using their phones. Just like Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, Viliami is training “faithful people who will be qualified to teach others.”
[Training in Nuku’alofa]
Viliami sees the vast opportunity that exists because of the advances in digital tools.
“These tools make things easier for us to do ministry. Having these online tools allows us to make Tongan translations of ministry tools easily and quickly available to make it easier for us to share the gospel and make disciples. I’m really motivated to translate other materials to allow us to do even more ministry in our mother tongue.” Viliami Loseli