- By webmaster
- April 22, 2016
- Comments Off on “Henry O” by Randy Hongo
Praise the Lord for the first three successful performances of our play last weekend on the life of Henry Opukaha’ia, GLORY IN HIS SOUL. Those of you who live on Oahu or who may be coming to our island this coming weekend, you are welcome to attend our final two performances of our musical drama Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24 at 6 p.m. at Kalihi Union Church, 2214, North King Street. Admission is free but donations are being accepted for our music school, the Hongo Music Education Center, a cause that Henry himself would have wholeheartedly endorsed.
Henry was Hawaii’s first Christian. His life testimony influenced the very first missionaries who came to Hawaii in 1820 and for that remarkable, inspirational work of God, we give the Lord much praise and thanksgiving.
Affectionally called “Henry O” by the many who found it difficult to pronounce the Hawaiian lad’s last name, Henry was from Napo’opo’o, Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Born in the late 1700’s, Henry saw his family killed in tribal warfare. An uncle was preparing him for service in the Hawaiian religion but Henry – chosen by God – desired something beyond his island home and befriended a Christian captain, Caleb Brintnall who took Henry on his ship, The Triumph, docked in Kealakekua Bay, to New York City. Later the Captain took the boy to the New England area where Henry learned English, then things of the Christian faith.
In time, Henry came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and wanted to return to the islands to share the Gospel with his Hawaiian people. Sadly Henry died of typhus fever at age 26 in Connecticut before he could return to Hawaii. His life however was influence and inspiration to the first missionaries that left Boston Harbor and landed in Hawaii in 1820, transforming the people and course of Hawaiian history and world history. What a powerful story of how God changed our islands and our world through this one Hawaiian young man.
I wrote this musical drama based on the biography MEMOIRS OF OBOOKIAH written by Edwin Dwight who was one of Henry’s English instructors. Much of the dialogue in my play is taken from Mr. Dwight’s quotes of Henry’s friends and mentors who talk about the fine Christian man that Henry was.
I also wrote four original songs for several of the main characters: for Captain Brintnall played by our Senior Pastor Jonathan Steeper, I wrote a rousing song called “The Great Adventure” as the Captain tells Henry and his friend Thomas about the wonderful adventure God has for the two Hawaiian boys as they set sail on their trip to New York City; for the nurse Mrs. Burge played by Lisa Lee and Dr. Cutter played by attorney Rowen Young, I wrote a tender ballad “Child Of God” in which they encourage Henry as he has questions about coming to faith in Christ; another song is “Great And Eternal God,” Henry’s very first prayer which I sing myself in the show with Yolanda Asher dancing hula along with our talented lead actor, Chester Centino, who dances a duet with Yolanda; and the finale is the title song “Glory In His Soul,” sung by Gay and the entire cast,” the words taken directly from the tombstone in Henry’s Connecticut graveyard, “he died without fear with a heavenly smile on his countenance and glory in his soul. February 17, 1818, age 26.”
When I first read those words in Mr. Dwight’s biography, I knew that had to be the title of my play. GLORY IN HIS SOUL. May we all live with glory in our souls, just as Henry sought to live. May we all live with the light of Jesus beaming from within our hearts and lives that the world may know we are ambassadors of Jesus, that we are witnesses of the Living Lord. Just as Henry was.
The history books tell us that Henry had a bright mind, was a hard worker, learned English well and even translated some of the Old Testament – the book of Genesis in particular – into the Hawaiian language, so we know he was quite a scholar. From the accounts in Mr. Dwight’s book, Henry witnessed to friends in New England, he gave speeches at religious gatherings and was inspirational to all who attended. His teachers spoke well of him, his friends told of how he inspired many to go on mission trips in the area and openly approached seminary students about going back to Hawaii with him to take the Gospel back to his people. Henry’s life was truly remarkable – God carried him from dark heathen beginnings and brought the light of Jesus to his heart and transformed his life and later transformed the islands and the world through the work of the first missionaries. Praise the Lord for His miraculous work in the islands and in the world through this young boy from Kona.
An interesting concluding note. One of Henry’s modern day descendants – Deborah Lee – is a good friend of ours and a distant cousin and was a member of my youth group when I served at Haili Congregational Church as a Christian Ed director from 1972 to 1975. In 1992, while living in Seattle, Deborah felt the Lord speaking to her about bringing Henry’s remains back to Kona from that Connecticut graveyard. It was going to be a challenging task because the people of Cornwall, Connecticut had claimed Henry as their own; they loved this Hawaiian boy and cherished him as a member of their community. But through careful prayer and loving discussion between Hawaiian and Connecticut representatives, Deborah was able to bring her beloved ohana back to the islands in 1993 and Henry’s remains were interred at the Kahikolu Church in Kona, very near the Napo’opo’o area where Henry was originally born. Welcome home, dear brother Henry Opukaha’ia.
Please come this weekend if you are able to. You will be blessed by GLORY IN HIS SOUL. April 23 and 24, 6 pm, Kalihi Union Church, 2214, North King Street.
When Gay and I attended the Hawaiian Island Ministries conference at the Hawaii Convention Center the first weekend of March, we were touched one day by the presentation of Peter Grieg, a missionary from England. Brother Grieg gave an unexpected but blessed word: he said someone from England prophesied that God would soon bring a great revival to the islands of Hawaii, and He would work that revival through the indigenous people – the Hawaiians – and the work would come through the youth. He then asked all the Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians to stand and he prayed for us as God worked in and through our lives.
Gay and I had chicken-skin (the shivers) as Brother Grieg shared this, thrilled for our state and our people that God would be working miraculously, thrilled because I am Hawaiian and honored that God would choose our people for this privileged work, and thrilled because we realized that our production of Henry O’s story was a part of something bigger than we realized. We know now that our play was another piece in God’s greater plan to bring revival to the islands. It wasn’t just “a play” that our church was putting on for these two weekends, it was part of God’s bigger plan.
As people see our play, we believe there will be a renewed appreciation for being a Christian in Hawaii and that people would even more fervently witness and tell the Good News so that those around us will come to Jesus. And with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this time of revival, more and more souls will come to the Lord as in days of old.
In 1835, there was in the city of Hilo a time called the Great Awakening with Reverend Titus Coan, a mainland minister who moved to the Big Island. Reverend Coan – called Makua Koana, Father Coan, by the Hawaiian people – was used remarkably by the Heavenly Father to love the people and share with them the Gospel message, as he went to the people’s homes and ministered to their needs, feeding their bodies with food and feeding their souls with the Word of God. Makua Koana would baptize hundreds in Hilo Bay at one time, as reports go. At one point, there were 13,000 people in his Hilo church which made it the largest church in the United States at the time. The Holy Spirit truly did a tremendous work during that first great revival in Hawaiian history.
And now, Brother Grieg is announcing that another revival is on its way. Praise the Lord! And thank you Lord that our musical drama GLORY IN HIS SOUL is playing a small but important part in inspiring the local people to be stronger witnesses by hearing and seeing the life story of Henry Opukaha’ia.
Both nights this coming weekend, Pastor Steeper will be giving an invitation, inviting non-believers to come to Jesus Christ, to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is not only a musical drama for enjoyment, or a time to raise funds for our music school, the Hongo Music Education Center. Primarily this is an evangelistic outreach and we want people to come to know Jesus, the same Jesus that Henry Opukaha’ia wanted people to know and to love. Please be in prayer for us that as non-believers watch our play – and there are many that will come out of curiosity or to watch a theatrical “event” – their hearts will be touched by the Holy Spirit and when Pastor gives the invitation, they will walk forward or make a silent commitment in their hearts. We will have a prayer table with men and women of the church ready to pray with these new believers, ready to give Bibles and reading materials that they may begin their walk with Jesus Christ with some knowledge and understanding in the Word.
Many great things will be done this weekend in the Spiritual Realm, and it’s all part of God’s plan for His world. From Henry to our play to the Revival to come, it’s all part of God’s plan for His World. It’s all about Him and His Kingdom, and we are the blessed participants as the Father works His miracles in our lives. Hallelujah!
At the very top is a link to a promotional video we made for GLORY IN HIS SOUL. Click on it and enjoy. Gay and I are talking and inviting people to the show, but we are the most boring part. Enjoy the wonderful performances by our actors Jonathan Steeper, Chester Centino, Joseph Amodo, Lisa Lee and beautiful hula dancer Yolanda Asher. Mahalo to Dennis Lee and team from Cornerstone Multimedia for the technical expertise in filming this video. All glory to Jesus!
I just want to give God final praise for healing me from my different ailments and allowing me to be healthy so that I could write and produce and direct GLORY IN HIS SOUL. Pastor Steeper told me after last weekend’s performances, “Randy, four years ago we didn’t know if we were going to have you around but praise God you are here and well and able to do this production.” Amen, Pastor, and thank You God for healing me and strengthening me to do Your work. As long as I am able, as long as you empower me and give me the ability to serve You and love You and keep creating for You, I will be Your humble and faithful servant. I love You Jesus, I trust You Jesus, I praise You Jesus!!!