The Cre­ative Min­istries Depart­ment this year had the priv­i­lege to attend the very first Regional Music Camp in the Tonga Region of The Sal­va­tion Army.

The pur­pose and vision of this camp was sim­ple — to encour­age, equip and train local Ton­gan lead­ers prac­ti­cally in their cre­ative arts, but also to explore what it meant for them to serve as mem­bers of their wor­ship teams and brass bands.

Pas­sion for Music, Singing and Dance in Tonga.

The camp was held at the Nuku’alofa Corps over three days — Thurs­day to Sat­ur­day, and was attended by almost 30 campers. The pro­gramme specif­i­cally tar­geted these campers as those with poten­tial to become more advanced musi­cians, and those who would ben­e­fit the most from spe­cialised teaching.
The pas­sion for music, singing and dance is evi­dent in the cul­ture of the Ton­gan peo­ple, and we did not have to look too far out­side The Sal­va­tion Army to see that. Our first full day in Tonga was spent vis­it­ing local schools, with Ter­ri­to­r­ial Direc­tor of Cre­ative Min­istries Jim Downey lead­ing sev­eral school band prac­tices. A local inter-​school con­test meant that each school band was vying for an edge over the com­pe­ti­tion, and the pas­sion and enthu­si­asm for their music was evi­dent in each rehearsal.
Cre­ative Min­istries Direc­tor Jim Downey con­ducts the Queen Salote School Band.
On Thurs­day night, the Camp offi­cially began — pil­ing in with blan­kets and mats and pil­lows, the buzz of excite­ment from the campers was infec­tious, and so was the laugh­ter. Kick­ing off the night ses­sion with intro­duc­tions and ice­break­ers, it became imme­di­ately evi­dent that this would be an incred­i­bly fun weekend.
Cre­ative Resource Devel­oper Kris Singh, along with Jim then led a dis­cus­sion on what it meant to be a part of a team that uses music to lead oth­ers in wor­ship. The del­e­gates were taught that the best lead­ers are hum­ble, putting the needs of their group before their own.

They were also taught that you can­not lead oth­ers where you haven’t been before — mir­ror­ing the impor­tance of hav­ing a grow­ing rela­tion­ship with Jesus and of per­sonal wor­ship, prayer and devotion.
Our first full day at camp (Fri­day) began with a visit to the Ton­gan Police Band, the nation’s pre­mier band, where Jim and Kris took part in rehearsals, and which the campers were able to observe. Inspired from their visit, the campers took to the day’s pro­gramme with enthu­si­asm, and the three Fri­day ses­sions were full of prac­ti­cal hands on teaching.
Campers con­tin­ued devel­op­ing their prac­ti­cal skills into Sat­ur­day, before begin­ning rehearsals for their Sat­ur­day night con­cert. The con­cert was a real high­light for the campers and lead­ers alike, with fam­ily and friends com­ing to see the campers per­form what they had learned over the camp.
The con­cert included brass band per­for­mances, wor­ship band pieces as well as sev­eral dances, singing items and even a pro­gres­sive rock drum solo and hip hop dance com­bined num­ber. Regional Com­man­der Sila Siu­fanga fin­ished the night with a short devo­tional and prayer.
Del­e­gates lead wor­ship at the Sun­day morn­ing meet­ing at Nuku’alofa Corps.
Our last full day in Tonga was spent vis­it­ing local Corps and par­tic­i­pat­ing in their Sun­day wor­ship ser­vices. Begin­ning with a youth led ser­vice at Nuku’alofa Corps and end­ing with an early evening meet­ing at Tala­siu Corps, we were treated to a rich show of tal­ent and wor­ship.

The authen­tic­ity of the sto­ries we heard and the peo­ple we met were inspir­ing, and the down-​to-​earth con­tent­ment of the Ton­gan peo­ple was a great reminder that there is always more that we can utilise out of the resources and money we are blessed with here.

There’s a des­per­ate need for resources.

There is a des­per­ate need in Tonga for resources, includ­ing work­ing brass instru­ments, music and micro­phone stands, qual­ity drum sets, drum sticks and cym­bals and a whole range of other prac­ti­cal needs. A lit­tle can go a long way in Tonga, and the Cre­ative Min­istries Depart­ment would like to encour­age any who feel they could con­tribute prac­ti­cally to the cre­ative min­istries in Tonga to con­tact us. Even the small­est of con­tri­bu­tions, finan­cially or prac­ti­cally through goods would be appre­ci­ated with enthu­si­asm in Tonga!
Over­all, the camp was a great suc­cess and the enthu­si­asm and skill of the young peo­ple that attended was very encour­ag­ing. There is great poten­tial for these young peo­ple to develop their gifts into the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers and inno­va­tors, and this camp was a solid step for­ward in real­is­ing that poten­tial. God is work­ing and His Spirit is mov­ing through The Sal­va­tion Army in Tonga!