Evagelia Ministry goes to Plan B for God’s work

For the first time in 24 years, Reverend Elder Ioane U. Evagelia and his wife Ina Tavai Evagelia of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) in Utulei, had to come up with a Plan B programme to mark Mother’s Day.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has led to the banning of church services and gatherings, and for the first time in the history of the church, usual Mother’s Day highlights such as heartfelt children's performances, leis for mothers young and old, and the taking of group pictures are off the list.

Rev. Elder Evagelia told Samoa Observer that many other churches are facing the same dilemma on how they can best celebrate the day.

“I'm sure that we are all in the same boat with many of the other churches on [Tutuila] island, trying to cope with so many changes due to the pandemic...with Mother's Day coming up, it has restricted our mothers from coming to church to fellowship and celebrate their day together,” he said in an interview.

“It's a special day where everyone is involved in making sure that our mothers are treated extra special on their day.  It has restricted our Fathers Fellowship from treating our mothers to a special breakfast the day before Mother's day.”

The tradition in church of Sunday school members honoring mothers with lei presentations is also off the table, according to Rev. Elder Evagelia.

“It won’t allow the Sunday school to honour mothers with lei presentations and there will be no other performances that are usually followed by light refreshments prepared by youth members after the church service. There, our mothers would gather to have their pictures taken in remembrance of  their special day, filled with the Joy of the Lord.”

Nevertheless, the Mother’s Day church service will be live-streamed on the internet, and the Utulei EFKAS special choir will offer the gift of music during the service, while the church’s 47 mothers are featured in a slideshow.

“Due to the cancellation of all church services, we have to resort to social media by going livestream on our EFKAS Utulei Facebook page. God willing, our Mother's Day service will go livestream this Sunday at 9am. Our special choir of only 10 will be singing a special dedication for our mothers,” added Rev. Elder Evagelia.

“We will also prepare a slide show to honor our mothers during the service. With regards to the presentation of leis, our Youth members will go out into the village and present our mothers with their leis in their homes, along with a delightful treat for them to celebrate their special day.”

Rev. Elder Evagelia has been hosting online services for the past two months. He said it is a blessing to be able to serve God.

“We continue to praise and glorify our living God, for blessing us as servants of His good news to the EFKAS-Utulei.  We have been blessed as their spiritual parents for 24 years now.  We are so humbled to have served alongside the Chairman of our church Afoafouvale L. Su'esu'e Lutu and his good wife Etenauga Lam Yuen Lutu, and especially the members of the Congregation,” he said.

Rev. Elder Evagelia and Mrs. Evagelia are July 1989 graduates of Kanana Fou C.C.C.A.S. Theological Seminary. A week after they graduated from Kanana Fou, they were ordained Ministers of Religion (Faifeau). Their first calling as Missionaries was in Tuvalu (1989-1992).

They were called back to by the  EFKAS Main Office and appointed to serve in the Sunday School and Youth Christian Education from 1992 to 1996. It was in February of 1996 the Evagelias were called to serve in Utulei. 

“We are proudly serving as the Faifeau of the EFKAS Utulei,” Rev. Elder Evagelia said.

They are the parents of five children – three girls and two boys and grandparents to six – five boys and girls.

Their roots are in the big Island of Savai’i and in Upolu – Sapapalii, Vailoa Palauli,  Falevao, Fagali’i, Faatoia, Saanapu, Satalo, Lalomanu – and Otara, Auckland, New Zealand.

“We can only overcome these [coronavirus] restrictions, by continuing to have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that  we will see better days ahead in His timing.  We pray for His wisdom to be able to still honor our mothers despite our current situation,” added Rev. Elder Evagelia.

“First and foremost, we must continue to work together to keep our families safe,  with continuous faith, prayers and fasting, we can overcome our uncertainties and still find God's peace to keep us going during these trying times.”

Rev. Elder Evagelia shared a special Mother’s Day message for all mothers, with the Observer.

“This has surely been a very challenging year, first with the measles outbreak and now Covid-19.  Even in the midst of this pandemic, the message to all our mothers is we must continue to put our trust and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Just as Joshua 1:9 reminds us ‘Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your GOD will be with you wherever you go,” he said.

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