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In the early 1800’s Catholic ministries, Tongan Methodist ministries, and London Missionary Society Ministries all settled in the South Pacific region. Their combined objective was to spread the ‘good news’ far and wide; establishing Christianity in the land of savages who would eventually steer from the error of their pasts and into the light of Christianity. European ministries were of the philosophy that Christianity brought an end to barbarianism, cannibalism, civil war, and other aspects associated to isolated regions.
Eventually almost every religious organisation on earth has made valid head-way into the South Pacific region, promoting religious diversity and encouraging multi-religious integration.
Christianity has passed its blood-line of influence deep into the fine-mat of fa’asamoa. A number of aspects of our culture are now embedded with religious references (primarily from Christianity). It is now very difficult to distinguish between Fa’asamoa and Christianity – the two are almost coexistent in nature, and function side by side.
You could also pose the same question to Europeans, Christianity is also the majority in the continent of Europe.
The Age of Enlightenment also contains reference to the global expansion of Christianity, and by all means, a European affair. but also a lot has to do with the fact that Nafanua [whom was a well respected historical figure within Ancient Samoan history – Goddess of War] is said to have prophesied the forth-coming of Christianity to Samoa. In her prophecy, Nafanua told Malietoa that his next kingdom (malo) would be from the sky (lagi) and that this new God would be all-powerful, more powerful than the traditional gods of Samoa at the time.
The arrival of Christianity is connected by most Samoans to Nafanua’s prophecy. ” And so to a large extent, our ancestors accepted Christianity generally rapidly – due to the fact that they believed Christianity was a fulfillment of the Old Polytheist ways and thus, a breaking off and evolving from such. Pastors are highly regarded in samoa and have specific roles.
Read also about Late Adulthood
Pastoral care is not a question of who requires to do it, but a question of whether: Do you understand who we are—the victims, the hearers, the constituents, and the pastor. It is not a question of whether are we believe in God, but a question of whether: Are you keeping the ‘promise’ to worship God, in the light of your birthright (the Samoan culture). The role of the Samoan minister in the community: There are three levels in which the minister is functioning and carrying his/her responsibility in the eyes of the Samoan community:
(1) Traditional — as practice by the Congregational, Roman Catholic, and Methodist.
(2) Non-Traditional — as usually the practice by the Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, etc.
(3) Go-Between — as usually the practice by the Mormon, Seven-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.
Traditional refers to the influence of the Samoan culture; Non-Traditional refers to the influence of non-Samoan culture; and he Go-Between refers to those influence that do not follow any specific pattern of the Samoan culture.
Traditionally, the Samoan pastor (minister) has taken a very important role in the entire community:
His/Her main duties and responsibilities are as follow:
(a) Teaching and preaching the Gospel message;
(b) Presiding on community events and occasions;
(c) Maintaining and a keeper of the traditional (culture);
(d) “Watchdog” and an enforcer of moral values, rules and orders;
(e) A spiritual leader – servant of God.
He/She is a highly respected person. Generally speaking, Samoa is ninetynine percent, if not hundred percent believed in the existence of God.
Each age-level has designated function and responsibility. The Samoan pastor should see that this has been followed and practiced. Birth: Begins childhood, adolescence, young adult, adulthood. The primary emphasis here is not the destination but the journey — not the end but the act of sharing. Before the European missionaries brought Christianity 180 years ago, the Samoans were already lived under the influence of imaginary deities. That influence was appropriately transposed without much difficulty into the Christian teaching.
In fact, the Samoans believe that they have had everything—divine understanding: from their historical beginning before the Europeans came to Samoa. Regardless of several theories proposed and initiated by Western scholars in regard to the origin of the Samoan people (from South East Asia or from western coast of South America), the Samoans themselves say: “Our origin was born right from the Samoan soil,” according to their legends. Chronological history of Samoa: 2000 B. C. to 400 B. C. – period of migration of the Polynesians from original homeland to the Pacific islands; Before 950 A. D. divisions among the powerful and strongest Samoans; 950 to 1250 A. D. Tongan occupation of Samoa; 1500 to 1600 first modern kingship began;1720 first European arrived; 1800 European trade settlement started; 1830 Christianity arrived.
Western culture dominance (in general)
(1) Economically: Money for security living;
(2) Socially: To associate with others;
(3) Philosophically: Learning/books from Western schooling;
(4) Religiously: Holy Scriptures—according to Western interpretation;
(5) Christian Mission: European missionaries (British colonialism and Americanization).
B) Samoan culture dominance (in general):
(1) Economically: Samoan wealth to be recognized;
(2) Socially: Life in family sharing;
(3) Philosophically: Learning by practicing and experiencing;
(4) Religiously: Holy Scriptures—according to Samoan interpretation;
(5) Christian Mission: Samoan cultural identity by way of exercising and practicing community sharing.
The Samoan way remains strong in Samoa after almost 200 years of outside influence from European and new world countries.
Geographically located in the heart of Polynesia, the Samoan culture continues to be a part of every day life and the people are among the last remaining traditional Polynesians. While industrialization and modern technology are not only incorporated but embraced as an integral part of today’s society, ethnic Samoan culture known as fa’asamoa (the Samoan way) remains robust and continues to be the driving force behind the religious, cultural and social lifestyles of the people.
The majority of American Samoans are bilingual, speaking both English and Samoan. The interwoven threads of family, church, village and respect are tightly sewn into the fabric of the Samoan culture, which has survived for 3,000 years. The introduction of Christianity had a profound impact on Samoan culture and people, who remain deeply religious to this day. The colorful variety of hand-woven baskets, fans and mats, skillful wood carvings and the fine art of siapo (tapa cloth) are positive indicators that the Samoan culture remains strong and vibrant.
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