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). Our father, Kahu Frank Tomaselli, along with our mother Tomasine, and my four siblings relocated to Hilo, Hi.  Dad 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, dad faced the cultural tensions of seeing the gospel embraced by our people.  Dad once said on his trip back to Hilo in the spring of 2018, “Hilo was the most difficult place to see genuine life change with 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 many years of serving in Hilo, our ‘Ohana moved to the mainland.  Ministry was very rough on us in Hilo. A lot of dark stuff happened 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.  Dad 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 this was crazy just based on knowing this city was recognized for.  For many, this was probably the worst place to go to 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 dad and mom received from the Lord back in the 80’s for Hilo, and it would come through what the Lord did in my personal 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 dad 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 in Vegas.  This is where I also met my beautiful wife, Layne, and we even moved to her home state of Tennessee to finish Bible College and Seminary.  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 churches and people in the mainland who had a heart to make Jesus known in Hawaii.  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.  Layne and myself 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 growing 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.  We are seeing a glimpse of God’s promises take place here.  Before I left Vegas, I asked my dad one question, “dad, is there anything you would share with me about being a part of God’s activity in Hilo before we leave?,” 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)