Misinale: Celebrating financial giving as a deep expression of missional faith inherent in Tongan culture
By The Rev. Mausia Folau and Mele Taumoepeau ‘Aho
What is Misinale?
Misinale is the Tongan word for the traditional, annual celebration of donations of money to the church practiced today by Tongan churches all over the United States. This Christian giving system in Tonga was introduced by early missionaries as a Biblical view of generous giving and was highly encouraged as God’s standard giving. “I grew up with this notion of our donating system,” shares Mele ‘Aho, a member of First Tongan UMC. “It is my understanding that this is one of many benchmarks to measure growth, particularly spiritual growth.” Pastor Mausia Folau explains that through a successful misinale, the members of the church are more involved and better understand their responsibility and ownership of the church.
Rooted in Tradition
The generosity of giving is a Tongan tradition. The Tongan misinale model here has a group leader with 6-8 member families per small group, called a kalasi ‘aho. Each of the groups set up their own time to gather and share their faith walk. This group system allows for everyone’s involvement where they have a voice and can testify about their Spiritual connection. They also work together throughout the year in many fund-raising events, such as feast events and so forth. Pastor Mausia requested that each kalasi ‘aho raise $10,000. Some small groups generate a competitive atmosphere for their giving while others feel that their eagerness to give is based on their faith journey. Pastor Mausia and the Lay Leader, Mosese Uhila, encourage this spiritual awakening through announcements during Sunday worship, knowing how important this is to their involvement and interest in growing the church. According to Aho, “I believe we all have the same goal – the significance of giving financially to God’s work. My father, Lemeki N. Taumoepeau, was the chair of 2015 Misinale. He quoted from Corinthians 16:2, ‘On the first day of every week, let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.’ He was so thrilled, thankful and honored to be the 2015 chair to witness God’s work in His Kingdom. Our family generously set forth the first peleti misinale on his behalf followed by our small group, Mo’unga Heamoni (Mt. Hermon).”
Celebrating our Christian Faith Community
First Tongan UMC has six kalasi ‘aho groups plus its Youth Ministry that pledges support in every year’s misinale. This year, members of the congregations from Seaview UMC, Free Church of Tonga, the Free Wesleyan Church and Pastor Sia Puloka shared in the misinale celebration and we raised over $100,000. When sending invitations to other Tongan congregations to attend the First Tongan UMC misinale, Pastor Mausia said, “It’s important to appreciate their work, celebrate being a Christian, and create community. Together we give the Lord our money, our song, our faith and our sermon”. We were blessed by the sermon conducted by Pastor Maka Vao of Seaview UMC.