Aloha mai kakou!
     Ohana Church was planted on Easter of 2014; however, it’s preparation began back in 1987 when my ohana, the Tomasellis, from Palolo Valley on the island of Oahu-Hawai’i sensed God’s calling to Hawaii Island (The Big Island). My daddy, Kahu Frank Tomaselli, along my mama Thomasine, and my four siblings relocated to Hilo, Hi.  Daddy had a heart to reach our people, the Kanaka Mau’oli (Native People), and for years, he ministered and began planting churches all over the island. As a Hawaiian native, and follower of Christ, daddy faced the cultural tensions of seeing the gospel embraced by his people.  Daddy once said on his trip back to Hilo back in the spring of 2018, “That Hilo was the most difficult place to see genuine life change in the gospel, and I believe that is what attracted me to Hilo.” He said this because He knew that only Jesus could truly change lives not any man made strategy, good leader/communicator, or gimmick.
     After 17 years serving in Hilo, our ‘Ohana moved to the mainland.  Ministry was very rough on us in Hilo. A lot of dark stuff happen in our Ohana.  We all got burned out and attacked by the enemy through people that we truly saw as our ohana, and that were a part of our mission.  Daddy decided that because our ohana was the most important thing to him next to his relationship with the Lord, we needed to all move away.  So we ended up in Las Vegas, NV.  You may think that knowing this city, this was probably the worst place to go knowing it’s background, however, it would become a place of healing and restoration for us.
The Tomaselli’s church in Papaikou from 1987 to 2004
(7 miles north of Hilo)
Kahu Frank Tomaselli, 2013

     After several years gone from the Hawaiian islands, God began to raise up a new generation to continue the vision that daddy and mama received from the Lord back in the 80’s for Hilo, and it would come through what the Lord did in my heart. It was in Las Vegas, where I came to faith in Christ at a new church plant.  My Pastor and mentor at the time, Vance Pitman, instilled into me that the Christian life was not about what we did for God, but what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.  This clear presentation of the gospel gave me a burden for my people, just like daddy received years prior.  It would take me several years before God would call me home to Hilo.  So, I served at the church I was saved at.  I also met my beautiful wife, Layne, and we even moved to her home state of Tennessee to finish my biblical studies training.  It was in Tennessee that God would call Layne and myself back home to Hilo, Hi to start a new church.  Our desires was to start a church that was centered around Jesus through his family, so God gave us the name “Ohana,” which means family in Hawaiian.

     In the next couple years, God would move mightily.  We would get connected with like-minded people who had a heart to make Jesus known.  We would train together in the mainland, and pray for God to radically do what only he could do in Hilo.  After a year of training back in Vegas, God would give us the GO to Hilo.  We moved on our 5thanniversary, and landed in Hilo with 5 suitcases, a month’s worth of savings, and a heart to share Jesus with my people. 

      Today, fast-forwarding a few years later, Ohana Church is multi-cultural, and multi-generational fellowship in the heart of Hilo.  By God’s grace, we have been able to partner with other gospel centered churches in planting 9 churches all over the world.  Before I left Vegas, I asked my dad one question, “daddy, is there anything you would share with me about being a part of God’s activity in Hilo,” he said, “Zeke, don’t do ministry alone.”  What a powerful word!  Those words still hit me today.  God has not called us to live in isolation, but in fellowship with him, and with others. I’m grateful that by God’s grace, and by the proclamation of the gospel, we can find confidence in Christ Alone. Our story is simply this,  God has a heart for the cities of the earth, and we get to be a part of His redemptive plan in seeing Him rescue sinners through Jesus Christ being made known through His Ohana!


Mahalo for your kingdom partnership,
Kahu Zeke Tomaselli

(Easter 2018 – Our Ohana, with Papa Frank)