Faith is at the heart of a couple’s decision to set up a new church in Oamaru.
Pastors Asafo and Anne Te’o moved to the North Otago town from Melbourne to set up a branch of Inspired Faith, a church that began in Balclutha five years ago.
Inspired Faith founder pastor Albert Fatialofa, who Mr Te’o met at bible school and remained close to, asked whether the couple would be interested in setting up a branch of the church in Oamaru.
“We Googled [Oamaru] and found out the second most common language was Tongan, and it’s very big on sustaining its heritage,” Mrs Te’o said.
“This is where our faith came into play.”
When the first person they met at the airport turned out to be from Oamaru, they felt they had made the right decision.
“We had never met anyone from Oamaru before,” Mrs Te’o said.
“We took it as a confirmation where this is where we were meant to come.
“The moment we came here, we felt this is our home.”
The Oamaru branch of Inspired Faith has been set up at 11/203 Thames St, above the North Otago Rugby Union’s office. The church’s third service will be held on Sunday.
Mr and Mrs Te’o both have experience in overseas missions and mentoring, and they were looking forward to imparting their knowledge to Oamaru’s youth.
While in Melbourne, Mrs Te’o was involved in running anti-bullying programmes in schools, and said she would like to do the same in Oamaru.
“What is in our heart is to really connect into the community,” Mr Te’o said.
“The mission statement for the church is inspiring faith, inspiring hope and inspiring life.
“It is reaching out to the community, connecting with other people, especially young people.
“It doesn’t have to be our church, there are churches that you are close to, just reach out to them.”
As well as Sunday church services, Mr Te’o is offering counselling services by arrangement, family support, and activities for young people, while Mrs Te’o is working for the Waitaki District Council.
Mr and Mrs Te’o liked how connected the Oamaru community was.
“When we came here we met out landlord for our church, who introduced us to our landlord for our house, then I went to my [job] interview and the person also knew my landlord,” Mrs Te’o said.
“We are not used to that, we meet people in the city and you never cross paths again.”
Inspired Faith holds services at 10.30am every Sunday.
“Everyone is welcome, all ages, all nations.”