And we know that all things work for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Pastor Chris Sola from Hosanna World Harvest Church, Manukau, shared the following:
“During our time here in Auckland, my family had been living in a small room in our church building in Pakuranga. We had also been on no income for about two years. Our church was in its infant stages and we felt compelled to persevere despite the financial lack in our church and our lives.
“We were living in this small room (there was no shower) and had rented our big, beautiful dream family home [back in Wellington] to another family to enjoy. Then one day the property manager called telling me that the entire roof of our home was leaking badly. He advised me that the repairs would total tens of thousands of dollars. As soon as I heard this I fell flat on my face crying out to God. I pleaded that I had nothing more to give and that I needed not just a small miracle but a huge one.
“The following week, on Easter Monday at 1.15am, my telephone rang. It was the Lower Hutt police. They had bad news for me: My tenants had left for Levin for the long weekend and left the barbeque plate in the kitchen on. After 48 hours everything around it caught fire, the flames rushed up to the roof and burned the whole roof. The fire services poured water into the house. Consequently, my insurance company spent about $300,000 repairing the whole house, including a brand new roof.
“My wife and I worked out that everything that we had given up for the sake of God’s call on our lives was restored in one night through that fire.
“I believe that when we faithfully heed God’s call on our lives, he will work everything good in our favour.”
Chris Sola and wife Seira hadn’t particularly wanted to go to Auckland, where Chris had grown up. They were quite happy in Wellington where they had been instrumental in forming a Pacific Island congregation in what was the Taita Baptist Church.
It was supposed to be a Samoan speaking service but within four years it grew into a multicultural church of over 400 people and moved to what was the Taita Pub.
“We did things because we loved Jesus. There was very little bureaucracy. We felt God was speaking to us and showing us things,” Chris told the Baptist Assembly.
Four years later God spoke to Chris again as he was driving around Auckland. He felt the Lord telling him that Auckland was a huge harvest field.
In 2000 he and Seira went to Auckland with a team of 18 people and started the Hosanna World Harvest Church in Chapel Downs Primary School, south Auckland. Within a year the church had grown to over 100 and continued to grow until end of 2001.
Then it moved to Pakuranga and into premises that had been vacated by Brian Tamaki’s Destiny Church.
That was when Chris and Seira’s faith was truly tested. The money had run out and they were living in the church building.
“We were living in what was Brian Tamaki’s multimedia room!” Chris shared. “We were there for two years. We had no shower and had to shower in the sink. We had no income and lived entirely by faith. We believed in our calling and I knew God was testing us.”
Chris then told Assembly the miraculous story of the house fire solving the problem of the leaky roof.
It was one of many answers to prayer as Chris and his congregation moved ahead in faith, planting more Hosanna World Harvest Churches in Samoa, New Lynn, Owairaka, North Shore, Avondale, Ramarama and Dannevirke. They are in the process of preparing a church plant in Balclutha. In three instances, they have given new life to churches that had closed or were about to close. In one case a new church was planted with just the pastor and his wife; there was no congregation. Now it has 16 families and four weeks ago baptised 19 people.
In 2005 the Lord told Chris’s own church that it was time to move back to south Auckland, so it vacated its Pakuranga building and moved into the former Salvation Army building in Manurewa.
Chris had his eye on the vacated Village 8 Cinema complex in central Manukau (Westfield has built a new complex adjacent to the city centre). He prayer-walked around the empty Village 8 for seven months. But Westfield wanted $9 million, well outside the Hosanna World Harvest budget. Chris walked away from it.
But later doors started to close on expansion plans for the church at Manurewa and, at the urging of his son, Chris had a second look at the Village 8 complex. He was surprised to find it still on the market and the price had dropped to just $4 million.
With the support of the Baptist Union and the Baptist Savings & Development Society, negotiations began with Westfield and, just prior to The Gathering, they struck a deal.
“I walked around it again and felt so ashamed that I had prayed over it, then walked away from it.”
Chris says the Lord has told him to turn the cinema complex into a church for the whole city and that every hindrance to the Gospel being preached and heard is to be removed. Chris and his congregation are now working towards that goal, listening to God’s Word and walking in faith.
“As I grew in my faith and my love for the Word, I was was able to hear the call of God on my life,” Chris said. “I fell in love with his Word, I felt the Spirit within me and I knew God would speak to me though his Spirit, his work or through other people. I do not see myself as just the pastor of a church. I see myself as a pastor who will make disciples and who will identify their gifts. My goal is to send them out into the world harvest.
“God is always speaking to us. He speaks to me through my dreams, through prophetic words over my life and through other Christians. He has spoken through my wife, through my children, through my circumstances, my sufferings and prayer.
“He does not speak to us for the sake of speaking to us. His primary motivation is for us to know His will for our lives and for our congregtion so we will be able to serve Him as Christians.”
Chris says churches have to be intentional about the Great Commission. “God will always honour the Great Commission. I have seen it in my own life. ...We must remove everything that is a hindrance to the Gospel being preached and heard.”