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Update of my Final Draft for a Research DMin Project.

Research Problem
1. The problem or Issue:

This D. Min research problem explored by this project is to learn from the Tongan
– American youth at First Tongan United Methodist Church of Pomona Valley,
Pomona, California of issues or perhaps concerns that keep them from
attending church and participating in our services as well as other church
activities and how the church can help and provide spiritual care for them.
2. Context:
The context is the Tongan local churches. The Tongan-American youth play an
important part of and are part of our Tongan churches spiritual life as a whole
not only in the Island but here in America. This research project will be focusing
at First Tongan United Methodist Church of Pomona Valley, Pomona, California
even though this problem is taking place in other Tongan local churches in
America as well as other non Tongan churches all around. It means that First
Tongan United Methodist of Pomona Valley represents other Tongan local
churches and non Tongan churches abroad.
First Tongan UMC of Pomona Valley services on Sunday and other church
activities here don’t have a lot of Tongans youth attendance and presence and
the question we ask is why? It should be a concern of church leaders and the
congregants. It should be something that every church as the body of Christ
should look into it to find out what was happening and also recommending
ideas to help and minimize the problem.
Tongans are coming from the native Island of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean
that worshipping and other church activities are very essential to our spiritual life,
Sunday services and other church activities are priorities and are full of young
adults and well attended but it is the other way around here in America.
There is a saying in the Island that the reefs of today are the land for tomorrow
that means that we (the parents or older folks) of today have to take good care
or well look after our young adults and children in growing up in all areas of life,
physically, emotionally and spiritually because they are going to be our
replacement for the future in families, churches as well as in communities. They
are going to continue our tasks and work in the future. The reef of today will
become a land of tomorrow.
Therefore it is important to identify what are the problems, issues and move to
recommend ways to help and bring those Tongan youth back to our Tongan
churches because they are the future of our Tongan churches in America. The
purpose of this problem research project will hopefully helps or gives us some
answers to the why question at the beginning. It is my wish that this research will
alleviate this problem.

3. Justification:
This research project will be important to all the Tongan clergies and Tongan
UMC churches as a whole. It will also important to all UMC conferences where a
Tongan clergy serve in a Tongan congregation or cross- culture. Even though
these issues occur in every other churches nowadays but my research project
focus is only just for the Tongan youth in Pomona Valley.

I hope that the findings on this research problem will help church leaders and
congregants to work together for the good of the whole body of Christ that
means the inclusiveness of our youth at church services and activities.

I have a heart for the future of our Tongan youth at our church. I want to find
out what are the causes of these issues and implement solution to help them
out. For example to create a youth group to share and dialogue about things
that concern them not only at home but at church as well life itself. I want to see
those young Tongan adults come back to our Tongan churches and use their
talents to make disciples for Christ for the transformation of this world. I want to
see an increase of their attendance and presence within our church services
and activities. I want to see that they feel include and welcome in our church
community of faith.

4. Audience:
The audiences are to all Tongan United Methodist clergies and congregations. It
is my wish that through dialoguing, interviewing, discussing, sharing and
recommending by clergies, young adults and congregants will help to resolve or
play an important role in these issues that are happening within our Tongan
churches. I am hoping that the Tongan local churches and others will find this
research project helpful and useful. It is also significance to all other clergies and
anyone who are interested in the purpose of this research. It is also safe to say
that this problem occurs in every church regardless of denominations, races and
cultures and traditions. This research may be also helpful to all non- United
Methodist Churches abroad.
5. Literature:

A Tongan Pastor of the Tongan- American Free Wesleyan Church (TAFWC),

Viliami A Vakalahi, in his doctoral project Tongan – American Free Wesleyan
Church (TAFWC), Siasi Uesiliana Tau’ataina Tonga-Amelika (SUTTA): Becoming
Vital U.S. Church in 2012 acknowledged the important of this issue/s in the
Tongan church saying “There are cultural and generational differences that
contribute to the problem. For example, some people think that a program will
start whenever they are ready, which is problematic for the Tongan-American in
the United State which is a busier environment that is not as laid back as the
environment of the Island.” He was pointing out one of the issues that face the
Tongan church of Today in America. (Sione A Vakalahi, SUTTA, (DMin project,
CST, 2012), 1.

Another contributor is Pastor Tevita F Vaikona of the First Tongan United

Methodist church of San Bruno in his DMin project, 2017 Restoring Interest and
Participation of Young Adult Tongans in the First UMC of San Bruno saying that
“My position for this local church started to open my eyes as to one of the main
realities of most church concerns: young people were notably absent! Only five
young people attended this local church where I was called to be a Youth
Pastor.” Pastor Tevita shared with us his surprise at first Sunday of his ministry to
see and witness this problem (lack of youth attendance) during his first Sunday
service. (Tevita F Vaikona, UMC Pastor, (DMin project, Drew University, 2017), 6.

Sheryl A. Kujawa- Holbrook in her book, Pilgrimage-the sacred art: Journey to

the center of the Heart writes about “the sacred art pilgrimage is deeply
inscribed in the human heart.” She shared with us the important meaning of the
word “pilgrimage” which means a stranger or foreigner. As Tongans are
migrants from the Island of Tonga to the states we were pilgrimage over here.
We are strangers and foreigners in this new land and met different new
challenges and transformation within our families as well as at our Tongan
churches. Each and every one of us including youth is pilgrimage somewhere.
(Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, Pilgrimage-the sacred art: Journey to the center of
the heart, 2013), 3.

Pastor Sione T.T. Tu’ipulotu of the UMC of United with Hope in the Cal-Pac
conference shared in his DMin project, 2013 Gospel of Hope for the World of
Hopeless: The Success of the early Christianity and Hope for the Tongan Church
elaborated more on the important of the idea of belonging explaining
“Christianity community did not merely focus on serving the needs of the local,
but they served it in way that many people felt they belonged to it” I have a
family which means that I belong to my wife, children and grandchildren and to
the rest of my extended family. I belong to God which means that God belongs
to me and I am member of his body called church. I felt good knowing that I
belong to something. (Sione T.T. Tu’ipulotu, UMC Pastor, (DMim project, CST,
2013,), 56.
Kristen Neff on her book, Self-Compassion extended on the idea of self-
compassion explaining “The second fundamental element of self-compassion is
recognition of the common human experience… Compassion literally means
“to suffer with, “which applies a basic mutuality in the experience of
suffering.”Tongan UMC leaders and the congregants should be able to have
love and compassion one another and for this youth group. We need one
another. We are all together in this problem. (Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion, 2011),

Su Yon Pak, Unzu Lee, Jung Ha Kim and Myung Ji Cho in their book, Singing the
Lord’s Song in a New Land: Korean American Practices of Faith shared “When
Korean Americans come together to share rice, they are both reenacting and
share cultural memories and creating their own ethnic identities anew in the
United States.” The authors emphasize the important of communal together of
the body of Christ. Tongans love to eat so it is also important to use this
opportunity like this to fellowship together with others as well as youth group.

(Su Yon Pak, Unzu Lee, Jung Ha Kim and Myung Ji Cho, Singing the Lord’s Song
in a New Land, 2005), 90.

6. Theological and theoretical/conceptual stance:

I will use various theologies and stories from the bible and similar resources to
strengthen my point.
A. “FIEFIA” theology.

This Tongan word (fiefia) started with the idea that we are in a process of
learning. Tongan has a kafa or maea (rope) woven from coconut husk and
other materials. It will take time and space to learn the concept of woven them
together to become a rope. The teacher who is probably someone who knows
the techniques and method of woven will first teach you how to start the
process that means you start the process of learning that is“fie” means after
sometimes the teacher comes around to check on you. If you learn fast and
fully understand how to woven the rope, he will say to you “fia” which means
you go ahead and continue to finish the job because you know now how to do
the job. You have learned and knew how to do the job of woven the maea or
kafa. Tongan uses this rope for different tasks and function, it is strong and life
longer. Tongan people knew how important the youth for the life of our
churches. It is the same idea that the Tongan leaders and congregants have to
come up with some ideas to help these young adults to start the learn “fie” until
they know and learn the whole process than we tell them “fia” that is the
meaning of the Tongan word “fiefia” This is the core value of this project for the
Tongan UMC youth.
B. Salmon theology.

Salmon is a fish that travel up stream and when they found a suitable bond and
safe places they laid their eggs and they died. The male salmon would come
and fertilized these eggs and they died too. The little salmon would develop and
stay in this pond until they mature enough to travel back from the pond to the
ocean. They would travel all around the ocean until that salmon would have to
lay eggs again. That salmon would travel up the stream to the same pond
where he/she was born and laid its eggs and die. It was a life cycle from the
beginning. It is the same idea when trying to do something about our youth
problem today because of our future. When it is time for me to pass there is a
hope for the future youth to step up and lead in family as well as in our church.
B. Bible.
1. Oneness and happiness. (Luke 15: 1-7, NASB).

I am thinking of the happiness and oneness of the body of Christ which is the
church and Jesus is the head. Jesus told a story (parable) about someone had
100 sheep. He noticed one day that he had missing one sheep. He left the
ninety nine sheep back to go and look for this lost sheep. When he found him,
he put him on his shoulder and brought him home. We always have joy to
reunite with a lost member as one happy family of God. The owner redeemed
the lost sheep.

I like the role of the owner of the sheep. He noticed that he missed one and
because that one sheep was very important to him. He left the 99 sheep and
led the way to look for the lost sheep. He found him and brought him back to
the other. He told his friends and neighbors to join him in celebrating because
he found the lost one.
2. Compassion and joy. (Luke 15: 11-32, NASB)

This is the story of the Prodigal son. Jesus told this parable of the two sons, the
younger ask for his share and took off from home while the oldest stay home
with the father. The younger son went to a far place and squandered spent his
money. A famine occurred and he was homeless. He went and work in a hogs
farm even had ate the same food as the swine. Then one day he came to his
sense and remembered his father’s home that he was once belonged. The
young son decided to go back home.
As the father watched from a far and saw his son coming home. He saw him
and felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him and kissed him…

As these two parables and others were examples I think that my project problem
is reverend with the ideas of looking to find the lost Tongan youth and brought
the back to a place they call home. It would be very hard to find my lost
Tongan sheep due to a lot of them are working and busy with other schedules. It
would be hard to get them at one place and time. But the owner has to keep
on looking and to find him/her. I hope that I would be able to help and find
those lost sheep and bring them home to be togetherness and oneness with the

So also to the compassion that father had to his prodigal son. He felt
compassion and love that his son is coming home despite what has

7. Methods:
I will speak with the Pastor of this church First Tongan UMC of Pomona Valley first
before doing my project in his local church. I will probably need some
information from the churches such as membership, ages and so on. I am
targeting group ages (18-40) years old only. I will let them know of the purpose
of this research project. I will also let them know of their right to participate and
they can withdraw anytime if they wanted to. They would feel free to talk if they
want to if not they are more than welcome to do so.
I also try to interview some Tongan youth which they attended church services
and activities regularly and see what they say. I also try to see if I could be able
to talk with some Tongan youth which they did do so. I will attempt to balance
out both sides while trying to talk with them. The interview may occur at the
church setting or outside the church places like the park, homes, churches
activities, cup of tea or other areas that would be available to interview them.
The interview could be in single or in a group setting.

I will make sure that it would be alright for me to write down points and ideas
from them. There will be no mentioning of names in this research. After the
interview then I would be able to compare my information from these youth and
may draw some results. I am aware that the answers may be different but hope
to see some ideas and recommendations.

I will make sure that all the information gather from this research will be destroy
after this project.
I would assess my interview by asking some questions like these or similar:
Please list your answers:
How old are you?

How do you like your Tongan church? If you said you like or not what is your
What do you like most and least about your Tongan church?
What would be your Tongan church need to do about this issue/s?
Are you willing to help your Tongan church?
What would you think about our Tongan church in the future?
I will also ask similar questions which are not on the above.

8. Scope and Limitations:

It is my desire that this research problem will benefit all the local Tongan
churches but it is a very challenging issue for me. My scope is narrow and thin. I
am hoping that there are resources to read and look at about this. Tongan
literature is not that much so my scope is very narrow. I hope that there are
others similar resources to look at. I sure there are a lot of questions for me that I
could not answer because some youth are too afraid to talk and let us know of
their perspectives. I sure that there will be more research on the issue in the
future but a least there is one finding to start with and learn for those who are
9. A detailed tentative outline.

This part will explain the problem research, context, justification and the
targeted audience. It will also present the content and chapters of this project
and the intention of each chapter.
Chapter One.

A. Spiritual care among Tongan American churches.

1. Theological perspective:
I will talk about how important theologically of the spiritual care for the people
especially the youth.
2. Bible perspective:
I will use what the bible says about the important of spiritual care for the people
including youth.

Chapter Two.
1. 1st Tongan generation:
Explain what/how spiritual care was done for the 1st Tongan generation.
2. 2nd Tongan generation:
Explain what/how important spiritual care for the 2nd generation.
3. Culture differences:
This section will shed light on significant of the spiritual care between the two
4 Other non-Tongan UMC churches:
I will see if there are similar situations on other non UMC churches and if they had
done anything about them.
Chapter Three.

A. The implementation of my project.

1. Method:
Explain my project.
I will choose First Tongan UMC of Pomona valley as a local churches to do my
project. I will use the method of interviewing and dialoguing with the youth. I am
going to use the age (18-40) unless someone is under that age will be permitted
by his/her parents.
2. How I do my project.
I will use the method of interview, share and dialogue with the Tongan youth in
this church. I will try to balance out the interviewing between those who attend
and not attend churches. I will also use to document what the results and the
findings on paper. I will probably ask two UMC CST students to help sort out the
results of this research.
3. Where I do my project.
I will try to interview them in churches as well as outside the churches settings,
anywhere that possible to get hold of them.
4. What to do with the documents and papers from this research.

I will destroy all the data and information regarding of this after my project. I
have no need of them except into writing of my project.
Chapter Four.

Conclusion and recommendation of my project:

Explain the important of the result of my finding in relative to spiritual care
among the Tongan American youth. It also gives out comments and
recommends of new finding to better the situation in the future.
10. Bibliography:
Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl A. Pilgrimage-the sacred art: Journey to the Center of
of the heart. Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight path Publishing, 2013.

Neff, Kristen. Self-Compassion. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publisher, 2011.

Pak, Su Yon, Unzu Lee, JUNG Ha KIM, Myung Ji Cho. Singing the Lord’s Song in a
New Land: Korean American Practices of Faith. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster
John Knox Press, 2005.

Tuipulotu, Sione T.T. “Gospel of Hope for the world of Hopeless: The success of
Early Christianity and Hope for the Tongan Church.” DMin project, Claremont
School of Theology, 2013.

Vaikona, Tevita F. “Restoring Interest and Participation of young Adult Tongans in

the First United Methodist Church of San Bruno, California.” DMin project, Drew
University, New Jersey, 2016.

Vakalahi, Viliami A. “Tongan-American Free Wesleyan Church (TAFWC), Siasi

Uesiliana Tau’ataina Tonga-Amelika (SUTT): Becoming vital US Churches.” DMin
project, Claremont School of Theology, 2012.