Church Anchors ‘Melting Pot’ Ministry on Oahu

November 29, 2016 | Posted by LCEF

Families who send their children to Trinity Lutheran School in Wahiawa on Oahu reflect the mix of people who call this most densely populated of the Hawaiian Islands home – natives born and raised here, newcomers from other countries and people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“We’re truly a melting pot right in the middle of the Pacific,” said the Rev. Ryan Alvey, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. Trinity has been sharing Christ’s love for more than 60 years, “a pretty longstanding school track record by Hawaiian standards,” the pastor said.

While it faces the same challenges as many parochial schools in the continental U.S., Trinity is embracing unique opportunities, thanks in part to the help of longtime ministry partner LCEF.

“You help us keep going so we can continue doing our ministry,” locally and as “a jumping-off point” for outreach, Alvey says of LCEF investors.

Ministry – not business – partner

Trinity is located near a military base – Schofield Barracks – home to more than 20,000 people, more than the population of Wahiawa.

Military families make up about half the congregation and the school enrollment. They also contribute to what Alvey calls “a lot of people in transition,” which he sees as both a challenge and an opportunity.

“When people come and go, we have only a limited time to reach them. But they also tend to be more open to plugging into us,” he said. “We are very much a family here, and we want to reach out to even more families.”

The school is Trinity’s best known local outreach, serving more than 170 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. Until this summer, it also was a ministry in need of a new roof.

“LCEF didn’t look at this as a simple business transaction, but as a partnership in ministry,” Alvey said of the line of credit loan support from LCEF that enabled Trinity to replace the aging rooftop.

Outreach to Native Hawaiians

Also this summer Trinity joined forces with missionary-at-large Clarence DeLude on a debut vacation Bible school program in western Oahu, about 20 miles beyond the church’s doors.

The single largest concentration of Native Hawaiians live in this area, the focus of outreach supported by Trinity and Lutheran Indian Ministries.

“Clarence seeks to share the Gospel with his people, connecting them to the gifts God gave them and in respect to their unique culture,” Alvey said of DeLude, a Native Hawaiian pursuing ordination through the Cross-cultural Ministry Center at Concordia University, Irvine, California, in partnership with Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Trinity also is reaching out to Native Hawaiians on the island of Kauai, where the LCMS California-Nevada-Hawaii (CNH) District  has planted a new church. Two men were recently installed as deacons at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, and Alvey serves as their mentor and supervisor.

Noting some similarities to outreach with Native Americans, Alvey says ministry with Native Hawaiians is exciting, but also takes time.

Much like Paul in the Bible, he says, DeLude and the deacons are working to prepare hearts to receive Jesus.

Committed to serving

After a recent visit to Oahu ministries and two other islands with CNH District Vice President Bill Swift, LCEF Ministry Support Western Region Vice President Keith Kohlmeier noted how “God continues to do His ‘Immeasurably More’ work in and through these congregations and mission outposts,” a reference to Ephesians 3:20 and LCEF’s “Ministry in Motion” theme.

“We are excited to participate as partners in the Gospel throughout the islands,” Kohlmeier said.

Alvey appreciates that partnership. Soon after he began serving at Trinity, he noticed a question asked of newcomers. Instead of “What do you do for a living?” – a popular conversation starter on the mainland – people in Wahiawa tend to ask, “How long will you be here?”

With God’s blessings and the prayers and support of people like LCEF investors, Trinity Lutheran Church and School expects to answer that question this way: a long time!

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