• Ron Gladden


“Are people throwing money on the stage?” We squinted to make sure.

My wife and I were guests at a Samoan luau. Cool, breezy, music filled the room. Mounds of food garnished every table like island volcanoes. Festive, spirited dancers painted the stage with bold colors and liquid shapes. Splashes of tropical flowers circled necks and brightened hairdos.

Fran and I were sitting in a fellowship hall in Tacoma, Washington, yet we could almost feel our toes digging into the sand. We imagined the sound of waves crashing, and we could almost see a dark-skinned native swinging in a hammock between two palm trees while visions of boogie boards and sea shells danced in our heads. We had never felt closer to the beautiful people of Samoa.

Pastor Lauina Vagana and his wife Flo started Saved by Grace Community Church as a Mission Catalyst church in 2009. They dreamed of creating a healthy, unselfish, growing church for the thousands of Samoans who had immigrated to the Seattle/Tacoma area. Over the years, the church has met in a home, a community building, and in several churches.

“We have to find a place of our own,” Pastor Lauina insists. “We have grown steadily since we started. Last year, we opened a new campus ten miles to the north under the leadership of Pama Taai. More than forty people worship there every week in addition to the 80 to 100 who gather at our main campus. We have outgrown another church, and we decided we must take the future into our own hands.”

So they planned a luau and invited everyone they could think of. Church leaders crunched the numbers and set a goal of 400 people who would each purchase a luau ticket for $25. That works out to $10,000, a good start toward leasing-to-own their own facility.

A Samoan church from Portland bussed their dancers to Tacoma. A Samoan pastor of a local Assemblies of God church came with his group of singers and dancers. (His church, too, is named Saved by Grace.) A group of Catholic Samoans showed up to celebrate. Some Samoans even flew in from Anchorage, Alaska, to show their support and help with the cause.

So how did it go? Over 500 people showed up. When ticket sales were added to the money that was tossed on the stage, Saved by Grace raised $13,000! It was an exceptional evening with a phenomenal result.

Pastor Lauina again: “I wish everyone could join us at church on September 21 as ten new people will follow Jesus in baptism. We are thankful for God’s leading and excited about where He is leading us. We will never stop praying and working to expand God’s work. We ask you to pray for us!”

Once Fran and I were sure that Yes, people were throwing money on the stage, we threw some of our own. And when they grabbed me by the arm and asked me to join them in a traditional dance, I was happy to go up and try. And I know God was dancing, too, proud of the passion of Saved by Grace to help more people find the Lord.

Will you join with me in praying for Pastor Lauina, his wife Flo, and the ministry of Saved by Grace? And will you pray about how to increase the kingdom of God wherever you live?

We are able to do what we do because of people like you. Thank you for your financial support that helps Mission Catalyst start healthy, unselfish, growing churches! Find out how to give.



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PO Box 873520
Vancouver WA 98687