A phrase I used a lot in Fusi Safata in 2009 was “Do the right thing, work hard and have faith!”. It embodied the essence of the Christian walk in a way that the villagers could hear, understand and apply. These three are biblical principles and our thirteenth in a series.
One of the challenges in a third world country like Samoa is communicating concepts and ideas that are so foreign to the local population that it’s more than just a cultural difference, or a generational gap, or a lack of opportunity, it is just like being on another planet!
[Pic: Hard working young man at a roadside stall. We stopped for a drink. Nothing too much trouble for the man. Faafetai, thank you!]
I cannot talk about the second law of thermodynamics nor discuss eschatological concepts such as pre-and post-millennial or dispensational stuff. The deepest I can generally get to is that “Yes, I agree, truly the Sabbath IS on a Saturday, not a Sunday”, and then the conversation will stop, for want of any meaningful connection at a greater depth.
From what I can see even the trained Pastors here tend to stop at “work hard, and pay your tithes, and God will bless you” sort of thing.
So when combining a raft of Scriptures and concepts of blessing that come from hearing a vision, and getting behind it, I have to keep it real simple. REAL simple. Preaching doesn’t work here. Samoa is all preached out!
I’ll say that again . . . Samoa is all preached out!
But the thing that I’ve noticed is that the system here actually works really well. Really, really well in fact!
The leaders SPEAK. The followers DO. The hidden aspiration within the culture is “In time, if you are lucky, you too will become a leader and then your children will do your work for you.” The thinking within those who have the power are “This is my time [to lead]”.
Now just because the system is well defined, and refined over generations, and works in this culture doesn’t make it biblical or right in a Christian sense, but it IS very right here in Samoa, because these are the cultural norms here.
My desire is to lift people, to help, to get Samoa up and recognised on the Internet for what it is – an extraordinarily rich culture with real potential, and I also believe has something special for the world from the Lord.
So breaking down the three components of this principle in two directions – first to the Palagi thinking, and then to the Samoan thinking.
We Palagi look at the idea of “doing the right thing” and will analyse what is right and wrong, make our own value judgements, determine what is right and generally set for ourselves what we think is right. It’s usually selfish of course and self-entered, but hey, that’s our culture to a TEE isn’t it?
But don’t expect the Samoan to do anything like this. Their thinking generally revolves around the values from where their current leadership is. So if they are in a family social setting then their value system comes from the Matai or family elder and what is good for their family is right at the time, hence lying to protect the family honour is a lesser of two evils and comes naturally. If it is within the context of in a gang, then “right” is again determined by the leader’s values, so that an external value such as the law, becomes less valuable than doing the bidding of the gang leader. Again in a church setting right is determined by the leader in the church setting – the Pastor – so that dressing in white and showing respect, attending church religiously and paying the
fees tithes becomes paramount.
Don’t think that I’m unduly knocking Samoans here. If you look back up, you will see that the default setting from BOTH Palagi and Samoan is off kilter from the biblical standard, because the Lord sets the values (the “right” thing) and those who use an external, biblical value system, not one that we conveniently choose, nor one that our leader(s) give to us will exercise genuine wisdom.
That then, is the exercising of faith component – doing the right thing BY GOD, and leaning on His values and guidance and instructions.
The result of all this is that Samoa puts a lot of responsibilities onto their leaders. With one glaring exception (Tuila’epa) they seem to me to fail somewhat, which is sad, because if just gives the mockers more ammunition to play with. I would love to see Samoan leaders called to account and asked to obey the same laws as the people, and to see them enforced.
I would also love to see the Palagi take personal responsibility for their decisions too. I’m not God but I can tell you I can see some pretty sad situations one day as He takes individuals aside and says “Oy, you! Whatcha doing? I said something different! Didn’t you hear me?”
I shudder at this for some people, I really do.
So doing the right thing is by God – not our leaders or at our whim. Working hard is just right in itself, although we are constantly shown the blessing that comes from hard work; and the faith aspect kicks in when we do this because the Bible says, or because we want to believe in all of this “God stuff”.
- Barter – exchange – collaborative commerce – whatever you want to call it, the principle we are working with is that of exchanging and sharing the assets of two parties, for the benefit of both.
- It’s not about money. It’s about people; sharing a vision and building relationships.
- Use what we have in our hands (exercising faith), as instructed to do (obedience).
- We wish to use only the best available to us.
- Our Take Nothing Home policy means that we eliminate excessive personal gain.
- It is more blessed to give than to receive.
- We encourage a Cross-Cultural Partnership, blending the best of two cultures.
- We aim for Financial Equivalence whereby we attempt to level the playing field financially.
- We offer strong leadership through a clear vision.
- Our values are based on the Judeo-Christian value system.
- We aim to work smarter, not harder.
- We should empower others.
- Do the right thing, work hard and have faith!
The Fourteen Principles:
- 1. What’s yours is mine
- 2. Vision > relationships > money
- 3. Use what you have
- 4. Use only the Best
- 5. Take Nothing Home
- 6. Giver’s Gain
- 7. Cross Cultural Partnership
- 8. Financial Equivalence
- 9. Everyone loves a winner
- 10. A biblical value-base
- 11. Work Smarter, Not Harder
- 12. We should empower others
- 13. Do The Right Thing
- 14. Walk the land