I love culture, especially my culture, the Fa’a Samoa (Samoan Way of Life). It is unique, rich in history, positive, welcoming, conservative, entertaining, and most of all respectful. I am proud to be a Samoan! Being in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific, and isolated from the big land, I believe this is how our culture has been well preserved. My favorite part of our culture is our food, legends and myths, and when we talk about our past spankings as Samoan children 🙂 While my love for Fa’a Samoa is strong, my Love for God is much stronger, that it pains me to know that Samoans everywhere realize what I am about to say next, and not do anything about it.
I want to target a specific practice in our culture that is being overly abused by so many, that I believe is getting in the way of our love for God, that is our approach to the Faifeau (servant, preacher) or anyone “serving” in the same capacity.
I am thankful that culturally we recognize and respect the Faifeau (God’s Servant) in everything that we do (Graduations, Funerals, Church, School, Daily Living, Cultural Gatherings and whatnot). We do this because like others we also understand that there is no greater work for one to be involved in, than the work of preaching or leading people spiritually. Samoa e, may we never lose that respect for those who truly serve God in this capacity. But I hope that we can see, understand, and act accordingly towards the issues that may or may not be a result of our cultural practices and emphasis in this area.
The problem that some of us (Samoans) see, some do not see, and some are trying to ignore, is that some ______I said some, not all _______Faifeau’s or persons in the same office, knowing this aspect of the culture, have manipulated individuals, widows, families, and many others for great physical and financial gain. Those who are being manipulated have no idea this is so because they are sincerely upholding traditions and believe they are serving God. What is sad is that many give diligence in making sure they do this or that for the Faifeau but do not give the same diligence to see if what is being taught in the name of God is true or false, which is more important. I believe because of our tradition as a whole or within families, sometimes people have replaced God with the Faifeau. There are those who literally worship their Faifeau instead of worshipping God. This has caused so many Faifeaus to preach in a way that will please the most giving person, and never preach the needed truth. This has caused many families to be broke financially because they were promised prosperity by what they do for the “Faifeau or the church.” Do not get me wrong, we must do good to God’s servants. But do not be naive to the point that your stewardship of God’s blessings is poor, and your responsibility to your family and their needs are not met.
Talofa e i nai tagata, tiga lava le mativa, ae sulu lava e saili se mea e manuia ia ai le “auauna o le Atua”
These questions are for my Samoans: (If you are not Samoan or do not understand the culture, you might take these questions out of context). Readers, please do not think that I am suggesting that people should not give for the church or for the wages of the faifeau. The Bible is clear on those matters (1 Cor. 16:1-2, 1 Cor. 9:4…) and as Christians, we are commanded to give and to communicate good things to those who serve in preaching and teaching.
These questions are for a unique mindset that is affected by a strong tradition in our culture (It had affected me until I started to learn more and more and still learning on what God desires from all people).
- How do you feel about your church right now? Is it a hospital for your spiritual needs, or is it more like a bank that you took a loan from and you must pay back with interest?
- When the church or Faifeau comes up in the family discussion, is the topic something positive to your family or is it something negative?
- How do you approach your Faifeau? Do you worship him or God?
- Is your life as a parent so focused on the Faifeau or the church, that you are neglecting important responsibilities that God has given to you to fulfill?
- As a child or young adult, does mom and dad argue about church financial stuff?
- As a Faifeau, do you find yourself preaching the Truth in the Bible, or preaching a sermon that will make people feel good? Preach the Truth Sir!
- Do you really have to pay every “servant of God” that show up for your family funerals even though that person never knew you or your family? It happened at my Dad’s funeral service in Hawaii, and regardless of how broke we were, we excused it by saying but it is the tradition and gave for the sake of reputation (these did not participate, but simply showed up).
There are more issues that you (Samoans) are aware of that I did not address in regards to this subject and our culture. No need to go into all that, but please take time to consider them.
Like I said, I love my culture, but I my love for God is greater. If culture/tradition demands me to do anything that will end up with my family not having food on the table, culture/tradition will wait until I can do both culture/tradition and put food on the table at the same time. I am not saying you do not give or serve in the church. I am saying that you should not neglect your needs and your family’s needs so you can impress others.
If you are doing it to impress, which some Samoan families do including my own, then it is not for God’s glory. There is so much stress when you are trying to impress. Stop it! Do your works for the glory of God (Matt. 6:1- 6) and not to impress others or to get approval from the Faifeau.
With much love my people, let us be real, stop the pretending, and let us go back to the Bible.
Talosia ia tatou maua le malamalamaaga lea o lo’o i le Tusi Paia. O i tatou o auauna a le Atua. Tatou te le tapuai atu i le Faifeau, tatou te le vivi’i fo’i le Faifeau, o le viiga ma le tapuaiga e tumau i le na faia le lagi ma le lalolagi. O le ekalesia fo’i o le fesoasoani lea a le Atua mo aiga uma. Afia e te fo’ai atu, ia fo’ai atu mo le viiga a le Atua. Aua le faasalalau ina lau fo’ai. Afai ua avea le ekalesia po’o le tausiina o le faifeau ma mea ua pologa ai aiga taumafai, e tatau ona tatou toe va’ava’ai i le faavae a le Atua e ala i le galuega o lana auauna ma lona ekalesia. Aua lava nei avea tu ma aganu’u ma taiala i mea faaleagaga. E tasi lava le taiala o tagata uma, o le Tusi Paia lava lea.
Samoa e, ala maia, tatou toe fo’i i le Tusi Paia,
Tumau i le Atua le viiga e faavavau lava.