By Dick Duerksen
His name is Tui. Tui King. Today he is scaring the socks off unsuspecting tourists who come too close to his palm tree on a tiny hump of sand he calls a South Pacific island.
Tui does his job well, and with great love.
Yes. Notice the twinkle in his eyes? He looks terrible, sounds terrifying, and swings a strong club. All to show you what life was like before the conquerors arrived.
“You know,” he’ll tell you, “there was a time when, if I had you out in the bush alone like this, I would take your head and eat your heart.”
Then Tui laughs. Loudly.
“Thank God that one of the conquerors was an Adventist missionary who taught my grandfather to love being loved by God.”
Grandfather had always known about love, even though he didn’t know its name. There was a deep sense of something missing, something that led him to ask odd questions and wonder if one might ever not want to kill. Love was not a common thing in the mountains of Fiji. Killing was. First they killed the people over the mountain, then they killed the ones nearby. After awhile, everyone was a possible target.
“Love?” Tribal loyalty was about as close as anything came to love.
“When the missionary came, he asked Grandfather if he knew that God loved him.”
“Who is God and what is Love?” Grandfather answered.
“Then the missionary spoke the words that came from his Book.”
“Before the world was, the Great Spirit decided to create people. Humans like you and like me. He took seven days to do the job, bringing light, making dirt, pinching it into hills and pouring water all over it, planting pawpaws, bananas, mangos, and giant mahogany trees and filling them with toucans and monkeys.”
“Why did he do this?” asked Grandfather.
“Because He loves you.”
“When everything on earth was ready, even the green islands in the warm sea, The God who loves you sat down in His garden, mixed mud into the form of a perfect South Pacific island warrior, and then blew His new man full of His God breath.”
“Grandfather told us the story many times, and right here he always cried,” said Tui.
“The missionary said that the Creating God raised the warrior to life, and then hugged him. No fighting, no worries, no anger. Only this thing called love.”
“In fact,” Tui remembers, the Creating God then made the perfect, most wonderful creature of all, called her ‘Woman’ and then gave her to the warrior as companion.”
That’s when the Creating God filled his people with the thing called “love.”
If someday you meet Tui, he’ll cry a little right here as he tells you the story. Like his Grandfather.
“Grandfather tried so hard to explain love to us kids, but we were hard learners. It is easier to just be angry and hit out at others rather than listen because you have the Creator’s love. Grandfather called it alofa – love. It meant putting others first, caring rather than killing, listening rather than speaking, crying with your friend when they hurt. Stuff like that.”
God’s alofa flows freely to all humans, no restrictions or limits. Even if you refuse it, He keeps it flowing. If you harm yourself or others, the Creating God weeps with the pain of your actions, but keeps the love flowing anyway.
It seems that forgiving people who deny His love or who walk as pain-giving warriors, is the Creating God’s favorite activity. He is love, and loves giving Himself to all.
We sat together in a humid South Pacific silence. Then Tui spoke again.
“The people He created, after awhile, they decided to choose hate over love. No good reason. Just selfish, I guess. Several times He tried to change their minds, to show them He was their friend and deliverer. Their Lover.”
“The people would not hear.”
“That’s when the Creating God decided to send His little boy, his only son, to talk to His people and show them why they should choose love.”
“Did He come?”
“Yes, he did. He came as a baby in a village on the other side of the world from Fiji. Grew up in the home of a common carpenter, and when he was a man he asked a dozen other fellows to join him and learn about love.”
“Did they already know about love?”
“No. Well, maybe a little bit, but not really. He had to teach them every day.”
One day Jesus (the son of the Creating God) was talking with his dozen Love Warriors when a stranger came into the group. Everyone knew him as an enemy who worked for the Head Hunters in the ancient palace, so Jesus’ men gathered around close to protect their Master.
The stranger asked odd questions, like as if he was trying to make Jesus say something stupid so the Head Hunters could kill him and nobody would ask any questions.
While Jesus was answering a question, and trying to explain about love, the stranger interrupted with another question.
“Why are you here?” The enemy spy asked.
“This is another place where Grandfather always cries,” said Tui.
Jesus looked right into the eyes of the spy for a very long minute. Then he put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said all there is to say about love.
“Mr. Nick,” Jesus said, “I am here because one day my Father and I were looking down into earth, sad that so many people are so angry. Father looked over at me and then pointed down into the earth – right at you, Nick. Then Father said, ‘Son, look at Nick. I love him so much and really really want him to fall in love with us and come here to live. Would you be willing to go down, find Nick, teach him about love, and then bring him up here to live with us? You know, we already have a room here with his name on the door!”
Tui stopped talking for a long time. When he spoke again his voice wasn’t anything like the terrifying warrior I had first met. It was soft, as if coated with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love.
“My friend,” Tui turned to me. “I will follow this Jesus anywhere. Enough of the anger. Away with the rages. Give me Jesus and His love. I want to be like Grandfather, a warrior who knows the Creating God. I am a Love Warrior for Him!”