Otara born and bred, So’e spent his early years in poverty and drug-dealing, all the while there was a greater calling on his life.
The LIFE Regional Pastor says his troubled past has equipped him with the tools to help others from troubled backgrounds.
“It took me 30 years to get over it but now I can talk to young people for 30 minutes and say, ‘these are your keys to unlocking your healing’.”
This Sunday, LIFE South opens the doors of its new state-of-the-art Manukau campus with the hope that it will bring life and fellowship to many, including those who may never have set foot in a church before.
So’e admits it might seem like there’s a “saturation” of big-name churches in South Auckland and particularly Manukau, but there’s a need for all of them.
“There are lost souls in my community who have never heard the gospel,” So’e says. “I think we’re particularly going to see a tsunami of Polynesians and Maori coming in.
Many Maori and Pasifika people grow up with a village or marae mentality and treat the church as an urban version of that, allowing them a place to feel at home and seek help when they need it, So’e says.
That help can be as practical finding a family find a place to live, as So’e has himself helped do.
A trained chef, he also spearheaded a soup kitchen in Otara which feeds some 300 people each week thanks to volunteers from LIFE and the wider community.
It’s an incredible feat but he remains humble about his work. “I’m just a vessel to be used.”
LIFE’s other ministries include Red Frogs (youth outreach), CAP (Christians Against Poverty) and Christmas Box (donated goods to struggling families).
South Campus Pastor Luke de Jong says he’s looking forward to welcoming both old and new faces to the new Manukau campus on Sunday.
“I believe God has called us to make an impact in our city and especially in the community of South Auckland.
“Our heart and desire is to help people reach their full potential and experience hope for a better tomorrow. We believe in doing what we can to help make a difference in our community, as united together we are better.”
LIFE South opens with its first services at 9.30am, 11.15am and 6pm. Kids’ programmes and youth services are included with 400 carparks onsite at 3 Lakewood Court, across Great South Road from Rainbow’s End and opposite KFC Manukau.
Beyond the opening Sunday, there is an entire month of activity planned including cultural groups, on-site food, live bands, sport on a big screen, visiting speakers and more. Visit www.lifenz.org/new-south-campus for more details.
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