Coconut Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree – made entirely with coconuts spray-painted in silver – stood close to the entrance of the Pohnpei Seventh-day Adventist School gymnasium as church members and visitors poured in for the special New Year’s weekend gathering that emphasized ministry to children and youth. Many got busy posing and taking photographs in front of this unique Christmas tree. And how appropriate the coconut Christmas tree was at this crucial time when the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) National Government had just launched the Coconut National Export Strategy (CocoNES) last November. Created by a Presidential Order, Micronesia established the framework for the design process of a national export strategy for the country’s coconut products.

The coconut Christmas tree reminded all attendees of the words of Jesus in Luke 10:2 – “Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.” With this as the background, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pohnpei launched its strategy for the New Year 2022 – “Each One, Reach One, Teach One”. This theme emerged from the Adventist Church’s full-scale worldwide evangelistic thrust called Total Member Involvement (TMI) which involves every church member in personal and public outreach ministry. And the coconut Christmas tree gave a meaningful impetus to our motto.

One of the highlights that fascinated most was the Agape Feast conducted under candlelight on Friday night. All attendees sat at long tables filled with fresh fruits. Everyone was free to partake of the food while singing and sharing personal testimonies. About half way through the feast, a holy communion service was conducted, accompanied by foot-washing ceremony and communion bread and wine. Several testified that it was like receiving a double blessing at the end of the old year and the dawning of the new year.  

Most of the children’s and youth ministries programs during the event were planned and conducted by energetic student missionary teachers. The young people became involved in lively discussions, Bible lessons, powerful music, and dynamic preaching. One worshipper posted on Facebook, “When you hear the sermon and you feel some tinkling deep in your heart, and then the goose bumps appear when they sing, your eyes fill with tears and you leave church feeling blessed… yesterday’s divine service…. Thank you Lord.”  The children too were blessed with a Vacation Bible School style program.  

“As my first-time at this three-combo church experience, it was amazing. The songs brought peace to my soul and on top of that the youth and children’s programs were just entertaining and fun for the children, a great way to keep kids entertained and learning about God. There were coloring books, videos, and skits. And don’t get me started on the divine service. It moved me so much and has me still thinking about my spiritual life and if I am fully committed to God. And lastly, the special music was just phenomenal, I have never been so enriched and so blessed to hear such soul food filled music.”
– Benjamin Rangel, student missionary 

Several spiritual lessons were drawn and learned from our coconut Christmas tree. Coconut trees and coconuts are ubiquitous and a cultural icon in these tropical Pacific islands. The Chuuk State flag carries an image of a coconut tree in the center. In the absence of a real cypress or pine Christmas tree, the young people used what they freely had on hand – coconuts. The lesson it conveyed was “do the best you can with what you have for the glory of God.” When God called Moses at the burning bush, He did not ask Moses how many horses and chariots he possessed for commissioning into the battle against Pharaoh. Instead “the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod” (Exodus 4:2). And with that simple shepherd’s rod, Moses went forth to Egypt in the name of Jesus, and delivered more than a million slaves from bondage under the most powerful nation on earth at that time. Therefore, instead of worrying about the things that we do not have, let us muster the resources God has already placed in our hands and conquer souls for the Kingdom of Heaven.  

The coconut Christmas tree stood as a silent teacher of another challenging lesson for Adventist youth – Stand tall and strong for Jesus. Has not the messenger of the Lord stated that “the greatest want of the world is the want of men – men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall” {Ed 57.3}? As the coconut tree, in addition to a hundred other uses, provides food, fuel, medicine, and building materials, so may we and our young people live and shine as the light of the world and salt of the earth.

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