Our God is a God of abundance and pours out blessings on all. Rouru Kapao, James Etuale, Taupo Tani, Roy Henry, Neil Wallace and Pastor Jesse Herford met multiple times in Neil’s garage early 2019 to look at how we could do work with the men of the church and the men of the community.

The data shows when a father comes to God, 93% of families follow. Our men chose this as a guiding ethos and responsibility of influence, positive or negative, that fathers have to play in society – far better it be the positive.

The team, called MISSION4MEN, built the vision to create environments for men to be the catalyst of change for good in their fanau / family / aiga, in the workplace, in their community…all the places and spaces of life that we live. MISSION4MEN is committed to helping men of all ages take this challenge on and supporting them on their journey of discipleship.

Our mission: Love God. Alofa People. Aroha Palmy.

MEN of MOSAIC strategy is a plan to create opportunities for any man to connect in from anywhere, to challenge self to develop authentically as a good man walking this planet, and to encourage and provide opportunities for them to step in contribute their best in life.

From a humble garage meeting the men started with the study ‘Garage Sessions’ looking into the book, “Measure of a Man” by Gene Getz. The book, based on Paul’s message to Timothy and Titus on choosing leadership for the church’, helped guide and finetune the MISSION4MEN vision. During the winter this developed into the Macca’’s Leadership Roundtable open to men wanting to develop in their leadership journeys based on these Godly principles.  McDonald’s is warmer and had hot food. But it was also a time to build connection with others in the city.

From there, the team stepped out into community, in partnership with the SnapBackBoxing Zenith Fitness, with the “Get In The Ring: Boxing Bootcamp for Fathers and Sons.” Designed as a respectful bonding and discipline time to encourage men to “step into the ring” to be better fathers, better role-models and better husbands. There was a strong message to love the whole family with honor and respect and to love self as a man in training, built around a fun, challenging environment. Many of the guys brought their family along to enjoy the time, watching their husbands, sons, fathers training and trying, followed by a beautiful breakfast and prizegiving together – real moments to build aroha, pride and connection.

The team introduced “Karakia Boxing Sessions”, a weekly early morning boxfit session for our men only, followed by prayer for our men, prayer for our pastors, prayer for our Fanau and City. They partnered again and started a fortnightly “Men’s Hikoi Group” with SportManawatu. More Fanau Fun Days came forward in the new year, opening the door to our communities to come together from Longburn Adventist College, from the Pasifika Communities in Palmerston North and from the different communities in our city with a purpose of building relationship.

At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic hitting Aotearoa New Zealand shores, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used a powerful whakatauki/quote “He waka eke noa / We are in this together” and the Covid-19 lockdown has proved a new challenge and ministry for the team to put “Love God, Alofa People, Aroha Palmy” into action.

What started with our Men’s Ministry looking to provide care and support for our Church Matua and families grew much bigger. The connections and our circles of influence quickly turned into a full blown emergency support response service to the wider community, especially within the regional pasifika population and our migrant and mainstream neighbours.

From a Community Grant funding secured to run more Fanau Fun engagements in community, the team were able to repurpose this to Covid-19 response and now the wives of the leadership team are pulled in and we start delivery with just 12 packages  dropped off by Taupo Tani on 24th March for our matua. This has skyrocketed, especially in the last 2 weeks, with as of the 3rd of May, approximately in excess of 780 food care packages have been requested and delivered across the central region of Palmerston North, Feilding, Marton, Bulls, Whanganui, Tokamaru and Levin. The follow up and the connection points that have been maintained have been invaluable.

Our MISSION4MEN team have received funding from Community Grant, MSD Community Awareness and Preparedness Grant Fund, Mosaic SDA Community Church – our home church, and donations from the Wright Fanau from Central Church, the Larsen Fanau, and the Henry Fanau from the Mosaic SDA Community Church, ManaPacific Consultants, and BioPlantNZ with Tony Manu.

A brainstorming session for our church in December 2019, by Dr Tracie Mafileo, led to several priority portfolio teams to be implement and, in this time of need, the Community Partnerships portfolio, also led by Taupo and James, have kicked into high gear in response to the Covid-19.

The very limited funding was running out and the team desperate to secure more funding resources to continue the much needed work through the high need times of an approaching winter. Unfortunately, the 2nd MSD-CAPGF funding application was declined, and there was disappointment because of this and uncertainty of where to secure funds to continue this mahi through winter.

But God is good… All theTime.

Taupo sent a message out to the team – “It’s ok. Keep the faith.“ 45mins later one of the team is on the road doing final deliveries in the evening and the phone rings – “ Bro, I have 40 food care parcels for your Whanaus. What do you want me to do with them?”, a phone call from Integrated Whanau Approach team, led by Rarite Mataki, out of the blue, because they had heard our people are in need. Within 24hrs our Mission4Men team are picking up 55 care parcels, calling in the support of Julene Kapao, Cheryl Wham, and Stewart and Jesy Fata, to help the team speed up the distribution.

24 hours later, another phonecall. “Bro, we have put 200 care parcels aside for your pasifika fanau… just get them ready to pick up on Friday… and so it goes.

God’s hand brings MASHTrust Luck Venue to the partnership table with even more food and fruit and veges daily and babies formula and nappies and blankets. Palmerston North Street Van, with great transportation to move food regionally and clothing supplies to keep matua, families and others in our mainstream, Pasifika and ethnic communities warm. SnapBack Zenith Fitness with donations of food and transportation. Ti Tihi Whanau Ora Alliance donate a vanload of fruit and veges. Legacy Church donating boxes of Apples. Community people have joined up to support the work and donate finance, food, clothing, and time.

Our MISSION4MEN team received $10k from all sources and with these partnerships of Integrated Whanau Approach Team, MASHTrust Luck Venue, PN Street Van and community donations the team estimate close to $45k of food and other much needed resources have been put into the community through this 5 week period. We still have space for a weekly product donation from Sanitarium to support the community through winter.

The team have received thousands of hours of volunteering our church and community people again stepping up including; SnapBackBoxing, our MISSION4MEN leadership team and fanau, extended whanau, community members new to the city, Pr Justin Strauss doing deliveries, Neil doing data checks, Julene Duerksen-Kapao on Social Media, Cheryl Wham sorting, Rouru coordinating our drivers, Matua Roy delivering and keeping an eye on the boys, lots of volunteers moving in and out, keeping safe with PPE and safe practices whilst also meeting the need of the people. Taupo and James, in the background, keeping the connections working, meeting with the local Mayor, agency heads and other avenues to continue to secure the funding and resourcing streams.

Now the opportunity presents for the work of supporting our communities to now influence change in the delivery of support service from an organisational process to a Indigenous Fanau Centric Community Led model of enrichment and resilience for our pasifika communities, in line with the Integrated Whanau Approach that is working so successfully for mana whenua.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19. The budget is running out, but His work keeps going.

Every single day MISSION4MEN has been blessed beyond measure through the servant heart of humble people. We serve a God of abundance and love, what an honour to be amongst the need and spread aroha and share kai. “You prepare a table before me…my cup runs over” Psalm 23:5. When the serving table for community seems empty, the phone rings or someone knocks on the door with a boot load of kai, blankets, baby formula, or 20 crates of cabbages. Time and time again, His plan works out for good.

Our MISSION4MEN come from an era where, as young guys, they watched and worked beside Old Man Brooking, Sam Etuale, the Bob – Winston – Donald – Ronald Strawbridges, Big Norm King, Joe Mafileo, Pat Whippy, and often saw Doug Davidson burning into town in his dark blue Fairlane. As they grew, they worked on the church hall and the church itself, brick by brick, were dragged out by Old Man Brooking to go collect or deliver or something for the people, as many of our elders did.

There is nothing special in what they do. God blesses you or through you. When He presents the opportunity, He will provide all the resources to do what is needed – you stand up, you step in.

Keep Faith. Give Hope. Show Love.

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands…” Deuteronomy 28:12

 BY Julene Dureksen-Kapao