A perfect 10: Raising a “Rock” on the sand

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The Waianae Beach ministry celebrates 10 years of meetings at the West shore.

by Joe Noland, Commissioner –

Attendees join hands and sing the doxology in Hawaiian at the close of each service. [Photo by George Rodriguera]

On Oct. 10, 2010, 110 worshippers, along with special guest, Captain Kyle Smith, gathered under two tents at Pokai Bay for a 10th anniversary celebration meeting of “The Rock.”

“The ministry in Waianae has been a remarkable success,” said Major Edward Hill, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands divisional commander. “With very little resources, it continues to draw a congregation of people who generally come from difficult circumstances, but share a desire to belong to The Salvation Army and give strength and encouragement to one another.

Waikiki and Waianae, 30 miles apart, are cultures that couldn’t be more disparate—one is a Mecca for tourists, the other home to an indigenous Hawaiian population. For years there was no expression of Salvation Army ministry in the latter because of its isolation and worrisome financial sustainability.

In 1999, Captain Kyle Smith, then Leeward Corps officer, connected with several Waianae families through Christmas baskets and camping scholarships. The need for a presence on the West shore became increasingly evident, with the Holy Spirit simultaneously broadening his vision for “greater things.”

Who to spearhead it? A person was identified, but things weren’t coming together. In the interim, Rob Noland, a soldier at Leeward, voluntarily helped with minimal programs in Waianae. Then, with a bit of nudging by the Spirit, he asked, “Why not me?” Surprised, yet equally nudged, Smith responded, “Yeah, why not!”

Noland began by transporting people to the corps each week, along with setting up local youth programs and a home Bible study. Driving back and forth, it occurred to him that beach gatherings under tents and canopies were an integral part of culture on the West shore. With more spiritual nudging, he wondered, “Why not church on the beach under a tent?” When Smith responded, “Why not,” the Waianae Christian Ohana was born on Oct. 1, 2000, with 30-40 people soon gathering weekly under a tent at Pokai Bay.

The ministry began to grow exponentially and Salvation Army living quarters were purchased near the bay; the basement and garage became a weekly gathering place in addition to the Sunday meetings under the tent. The congregation itself wanted a name change, something simple and more appropriate. “The Rock: A Ministry of The Salvation Army” was chosen, because of its double meaning—meeting literally on a volcanic rock and “on Jesus Christ, the Rock, we stand.”

“The ministry on the beach continues to be cutting edge because it takes the gospel to the doorstep of where people live and play,” Hill said. “I am grateful to the commitment of Rob Noland and others who have continued forward this ministry now for 10 years.”

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