“Testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth”. – Jesus in Acts 1:8
We just had one of the most amazing opportunities afforded to River of Life Mission. And the
world seems to be taking notice as my phone has not stopped ringing and the emails keep
coming. I think you will be pretty excited, challenged and moved by this past month too as you
River of Life Mission is part of a larger organization that oversees all faith-based Christian
missions across America, Canada and the Caribbean – called CityGate Network. CityGate is the
umbrella covering accountability, and a supporting organization for over 330 Christian missions
that care for the poor and homeless. First and foremost, I think it is amazing to know that there
are 330 Christ centered missions helping the homeless across the America’s. Wow, praise God
for this alone!
This past month we were invited to the CityGate conference in San Antonio, Texas to be a part
of this network of missions, and they gave us the opportunity to speak and address the 1,300
attendants at this conference about Hawaii and the incredible work of River of Life Mission. I
wanted to share with you a bit of our journey over these powerful few days, sharing about all
Jesus is doing. I will write this from my perspective and even my personal journey through the
month of June.
As we arrived in San Antonio, everyone at the conference knew exactly where we were from.
Maybe it was the colorful Hawaiian shirts, or maybe the dead give-away was that we were the
only ones in slippah’s. As we began to mingle through the crowd, we started to get the
comments and looks that shouted “How hard can it be doing ministry in paradise?” So I knew
that when I got the chance to share with these 1,300 leaders from the 330 missions, that I had
to make a paradigm shift in their thinking about Hawaii and our work here.
The President of CityGate Network set me up well by sharing with the crowd that Hawaii has the
2 nd most homeless people per capita in the entire United States, just behind Washington DC. a
district made up almost entirely of a metropolitan city landscape, so it makes sense that it is the
highest in the country of homeless per capita. But Hawaii being “country” in most areas, having
the second highest homeless rate in America per capita is a startling call to action.
As I addressed this large crowd of Christian leaders, I first talked about how Hawaii is actually
the most isolated, populated landmass in the entire world. And immediately followed that by
stating, “Did you ever think that when Jesus called us to go to the ‘ends of the earth’ to share
the gospel, that it would be to a location in America?” This is the statement that I think really
got this great crowd of leaders thinking.
We always think that the ends of the earth are some isolated tribe in Africa or maybe even way
over in Papua New Guinea, where I grew up – but if you actually look at the world,
geographically, Hawaii is the most isolated populated landmass in the entire world. So when
Jesus calls us to go to the ends of the earth, He actually geographically was talking about
Since I shared this in San Antonio, my phone has not stopped ringing and the emails keep
coming of people actually apologizing for thinking that we are fine in Hawaii and living in
paradise where even caring for the homeless is a vacation. People are admitting to me
constantly that they had no idea what we are facing here, and they want to help.
One other thing that was discussed at length at the San Antonio conference is how many
missions across the country are moving to a more mobile approach for care and ministry. I am
pleased to also inform you that River of Life Mission is already on the cutting edge of how to do
mobile ministry. Most missions across America and beyond have relied on “brick and mortar”
buildings to care for the poor, but more and more missions across the world are moving to a
more mobile approach. This was extremely evident at this year’s conference and I will be
sharing more with you about this in future newsletters. But I did want you all to know that at
this national convention for 330 missions across America, a mobile approach to care and
ministry is catching fire, and River of Life Mission after only 2 months of doing mobile ministry
seems to be a leader in this important conversation already. So we again believe that our best
is ahead, and with your great support, we will continue to push forward in this new and
powerful way to extend Jesus.
And now back to Hawaii and the situation we face here on a daily basis with so many people
alone and hurting on the streets. And I think we all know that the situation isn’t getting any
better. It was another small session, with a young influential leader and speaker, that really
impacted me, and I think will be an even greater encouragement to all of us who live here in
Hawaii. Especially those of you that have made that decision to fully support the great work of
River of Life Mission. This small breakout session was hosted by an amazing Christian young
man named Bob, who started a blanket company years ago that would donate a blanket for
every blanket purchased. Bob’s business gained world-wide notoriety and his business exploded
to the point of where he has been able to give away millions of blankets to the homeless across
It was in this small session, Bob spoke about an experience he had in Hawaii, of all places. Bob
was actually at a Luau, and a lady he said he will never forget, spoke about “kuleana”. She
talked about how Hawaii from even it’s earliest days, was so isolated, that we had to take care
of one another. She spoke about “kuleana” and how she and her family realized that help
wasn’t coming from across the ocean because Hawaii was so isolated. The “if” and “when” help
would come wasn’t even worth the focus, “we just all had to jump in and help”. This reminds
me of Jesus calling each of us to go to the ends of earth to share about His great kingdom. And
we are proud to go to the ends of the earth, literally, right here in Hawaii to help those in need
– together with you!
Bob from Sackcloth and Ashes Blankets reminded us at the end, “We all have to take a part. If
we rely on government or corporations, there is not enough to go around, but if we activate
individuals and everyone is a part – there is always enough to go around”. What a profound
statement and call to action for all of us as we all serve together, share together, and stand
together for those who are desperately poor in spirit.
Pastor Paul Gates