Last year, Kate Geddes spent three months at Revolution Hawaii—a Salvation Army young adults programme that aims to ‘wage war with aloha’ (love). Kate found that the real revolution began within.
When you think of Hawaii, you probably think of beautiful beaches, surfing, the pipeline and luaus. To the regular tourist visiting the main island of O’ahu, this is a fairly accurate depiction.
But travel 10 kilometres from Waikiki into downtown Chinatown, and this idyllic image somewhat changes—stunning beaches, blue water and luaus are replaced with an array of people living homeless on the street. Travel 40 minutes to the West Coast, and you find the community of Pu’uhonua O Waianae, where people live camped in tents—with no electricity, facilities or running water.
THE REVOLUTION BEGINS
Revolution Hawaii (RevHi) brings young adults aged 18–29 from around the world, to the North Shore of O’ahu to ‘Wage War with Aloha’. The programme is a community mission and discipleship programme where you learn how to love God and love others better. Love or ‘aloha’ is expressed through serving and volunteering in the two communities of Chinatown and Waianae.
I like to think that in some way, I made some small impact in the communities, in my team and in The Salvation Army corps where I served.
But the reality is that the ripples of what I learnt in Hawaii have changed my mission, ministry and life back at home. The leaders always made it clear that the real revolution begins when you go home, and practise everything you learnt.
From experiencing living homeless, to hanging out with kids in communities and sharing stories with homeless people on the street—experiences like these change your life, and your perspective on the world.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
A platitude that we sometimes throw into conversation: ‘There is so much power in prayer’. But my experiences changed my perspective on this statement. We would dedicate time every day to prayer, and the speed that prayers were answered blew my mind. I saw healing happen, I saw addicts who lived on the street who openly renounced God have a change of heart and come to church, wanting help.
I saw God provide for my every need through all situations. I saw people who refused to pray, soften over the months and begin to ask for prayer. These tangible answers to prayer have made my prayers since coming home bolder and bigger. My heart believes more that God can and will answer prayer.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES
RevHi is based on learning and practising spiritual disciplines. We focused on:
- reading the Bible
- silence and solitude
- scripture memorisation
- taking a Sabbath day
- teaching and learning
- reading books that develop you
- physical wellbeing through exercise.
The learning and practising of these transformed my spiritual life. At times it’s hard, but I try to put these into practise now at home. The more you pour into your relationship with God, the more you want to—and the more you learn about who God is. It’s the best!
LIVING SIMPLY IN COMMUNITY
At RevHi you are part of a team that does everything together: it eats, it prays and reads the Bible, journeys and serves together.
As the team lived together, we journeyed through the good and the bad, the beautiful, the exciting, the ugly—and we needed to make allowances for each other. It solidified for me that we are not meant to be alone—we are meant to live in community with each other and journey through life together. We need to break bread, pray, read the Bible and serve together, and learn what true community living looks like in our own context.
The programme focused on the idea of living simply—all of your personal belongings needed to fit into a small tub, and we were provided and lived on the basic essentials.
LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS
RevHi’s fundamental ethos is to love God and love others. It seems simple, right? Something you’ve heard before. But have you really stopped to think about what that looks like in your context?
For us in RevHi this looked like eradicating any gossip from our team. It meant being the first one to put up your hand to serve—what we called the ‘me first attitude’, a complete contrast to the ‘me first’ attitude our culture teaches us.
It meant talking to people who we would otherwise walk by. It meant not complaining about people, or the things we did or didn’t have, but rather being grateful for God’s provision.
It meant not criticising each other, but showing love through the words we used and the way we addressed problems or conflict. It meant living with a humble, selfless attitude. It meant learning what unconditional love from the Father means, and how we can love those who are around us.
It meant on the days when we were tired, potentially a little sunburnt and drained from early mornings, late nights, days of learning and ministry, to draw on the strength of God and love his people anyway. I’m challenged daily to keep this ethos in my life now at home.
In honesty, RevHi was hard and stretching, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It isn’t for everybody and if you are someone who God calls to the islands of Hawaii, you need to be sure that you want to go—because you will be challenged and changed.
You also need a community at home who supports and prays for you while you are away, but is also somewhere you can come home to and outwork all the things you’ve learnt. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if it is something you feel interested in or called to, explore it. Because if it’s right for you, it’ll change your life.
10 THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME
- To experience living homeless, twice. They were six of some of the most testing, but rewarding, days of my life.
- To find out that surfing is so much harder than it looks.
- To make friends who are like family.
- That the toilets flushed the other way to New Zealand.
- To have my perspective on so many things change.
- To be lying under a tree and have a bird poop in my face.
- To have an American accent twang on some words when I came home (please note, this has gone).
- That after sleeping on the ground for four nights in a row, how comfortable a plastic mattress on a bunk bed is.
- That I survived the heat and humidity of Hawaii.
- How much I missed New Zealand coffee.
For more info | RevolutionHawaii.org