Council for World Mission (CWM) General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum delivered a message of solidarity to the people of Tonga during an online prayer vigil organised by CWM Pacific Region on 28 January.

The full transcript is as follows:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I bring you greetings of peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It is with great concern we received the news, through our CWM Pacific regional desk and various news outlets, about the Tonga volcano eruption. The damage that the eruption has caused is enormous, and I am deeply troubled to see such destruction. Even though we live very far away from the Pacific region, we feel the pain and agony you have been going through based on the news we receive from our Pacific member churches.

However, the creation, too, has been groaning because of its destruction. It is not only the volcanic eruption, but the Pacific region has been facing a huge threat from the raising of Sea levels, causing great damage to the ecological integrity. It is time to take the issue seriously. Creation is at the heart of Mission. Humanity is responsible to care for the integrity of creation. Excessive greed and unlimited consumption, which lead to the continuous destruction of nature, must end.

Therefore, ecological justice is the most urgent mission today. That’s why, the new CWM strategy framework calls upon the CWM member churches to participate in mission of life-flourishing creation. The ecological integrity and climate justice are a matter of our “Faith in God.” Humanity cannot be saved alone while the rest of the created world perishes. Eco-justice cannot be separated from salvation, and salvation cannot come without a new humility that respects the needs of all life on earth.

The destruction caused by the volcanic eruption can be a huge challenge for the Tongan churches and people to restore to normal conditions. While I heartfully appreciate you for your resilience and hope, I also would like to assure you that the CWM will stand in solidarity with all the people affected and be an active partner assisting you in the process of restoration.

Psalm 46:1-3 says,

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.”

  • May the God of refuge and strength be with you as an ever-present help in this time of grief and sorrow.
  • May God comfort and healing be with you, comfort your hearts, and heal your souls.
  • May God of restoration and life be with you and give you strength in your works of rebuilding the destroyed places.

As I close, I would like to thank our Pacific office team, Rev. Niko, Mrs Fuata, and the CWM Comms team for their hard work and coordination in organizing this prayer meeting. Thank you all for joining us as we pray to God for help. I would also like to thank all those joining their hands and efforts supply basic essentials and aid, especially our member churches like the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

It is my prayer and hope that in the midst of despair and grief, you will be able to find peace and joy.