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  • Added May 14th, 2016
  • Filed under 'All Sorts'
  • Viewed 7097 times

Inu e Fisiinaua (Drink from waves SPRAY)

By Siosifa Pole in All Sorts

Tongan concepts of resilience and mission derivedfrom seafaring in the South Pacific; church leaders also need to be resilient, create a vision for growth, and also maintain our mission which is to reach out with the love of Christ.

Inu e Fisi'inaua (Drink from waves' SPRAY): A Concept of Endurance in Time of Great Challenge

It feels fresh to take a walk at sunset around St Clair beach when the weather is fine. The body and mind relax and both enjoy the cool
breeze of the easterly wind. I immediately feel at peace and renewed as I meditate on the wonder of God's creation. It is a different experience if you walk around the beach on a wild and windy day. The waves are getting bigger and they roll down and splash on the seawall of the Esplanade and spray over the top of the wall. Those who walk on the top of the seawall like myself are confronted by the spray from big waves. The spray from the waves goes up high above the seawall. Sometimes those who walk on the top of the seawall accidently sniff or drink the sea water that comes up from the big waves. This short experience at the St Clair seawall reminds me of this Tongan saying, 'Inu e fisi'inaua' (drink from waves' spray/ sea-water).
"Drink from the spray of waves" is the experience of sailors and navigators as they sail their boats in the sea on long distance voyage. Our ancestors are known for their experience in the South Pacific Ocean. They didn't have the technology and tools that European navigators and explorers had, but they had their experience and knowledge about the circle of nature as their direction. They relied on their experience of the sun, the wind, the stars, the moon, and ocean currents. In his book entitled, We, the Navigators, David Lewis remarks on the experience of the Polynesian people of sea voyaging. He states, "One essential part of this complex, often at the core of it, is an image of the outrigger canoe and the heroic men who comprise its crew, sailing intrepidly over uncharted seas to yet undiscovered isles." They travelled between islands on their big wooden outrigger or doubled- hulled canoes looking for food and exploring new lands. As they travelled by sea on the route to their destination they were usually confronted by strong wind and big waves. Those experienced navigators and sailors endured these challenges by standing firm on their positions while their boat was tossing around. They are smashed and tossed by waves and sometimes they drink the sea water as they face those challenges. Despite those challenges, they would never give up, because the survival of the passengers depends on their expertise and endurance. Those experienced navigators and sailors are known as
'kaivai' (water-eaters) because they usually consume the sea water from waves' spray as they carefully navigate their boat to arrive safely at their destination. They wouldn't mind the salty taste of the sea water because their main goal is to reach their destination and accomplish their mission.
Inu e fisi'inaua is a Tongan concept, which originates from the experience of the seafarers and navigators as an encouragement for those who face great times of challenge, not to give up. There are three important factors which would enable a navigator to endure such a rigorous voyage. Firstly, the survival of the passengers, secondly, to accomplish the mission, and thirdly, to enable the mission to continue on. It is surely the priority of a navigator to save the lives of his passengers and he would take all the risks in the sea necessary to safeguard his passengers. He would always draw on the best of his ability to fulfil the mission that he is aiming to accomplish on his destination. He would also see that arriving at his destination is not the end of the mission, but is part of a long journey to accomplish more in the future. These three factors would empower a navigator or sailor to endure the rough sea and to drink the salty water from the waves' spray (inu e fisi'inaua) of the ocean. He would not and will not give up until he achieved all these factors.
The concept of inu e fisi'inaua is at the heart of the gospel and Christian theology. Discipleship is an integral part of the gospel. The concept of inu e fisi'inaua can help us to draw meaning out from the gospel that shapes our theology. In the gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16, we have these words, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." Of course we have to read this passage within it context in order to have a fair understanding of its meaning. It is clear from the context of this passage that it is the love of God that cost him his Son to die for the world. God (symbolically) consumed the sour taste of our hatred so that the world may experience God's love and compassion. God's mission was to save this world by his love and continue to do so through his followers. David Watson in his book entitled Accountable Discipleship, states, "Discipleship meant following the commandments of Christ according to the law of love." Love requires sacrifice and the cross, which is a symbol of our Christian faith, a symbol which speaks volume to the reality of God's love for us. I have found it to be true in my life that without making sacrifices we are not able to offer genuine love toward others.
As a Parish we often talk about leadership and the kind of leadership that we want. For me, I want to see a leadership which is able to face up to all the many challenges which our church faces today and not to run away from these challenges. This is what the Tongan inu e fisi'inaua concept is all about. For our Parish to have a future we need to be resilient, create a vision for growth, and also maintain our mission which is to reach out to our world both now and in the future with the love of Christ.
Siosifa Pole