KAPAA – Before Kapaa pastor Douglas Naa accepted his new position at Seventh-day Adventist, he couldn’t deny a childhood dream.
“When I was growing up in Tonga, my uncle picked me up from school one day in a Jeep Wrangler. The jeep had no top on it, so it was fully exposed,” Naa recalled. “Sitting at the back of the Jeep, I will never forget the tropical feel of the island sun and the wind blowing on my face and through my hair.
“When I became a man one day, and I get to live on an island, I’m gonna buy me a Jeep Wrangler,” the 14-year-old Naa said to himself then.
But there were still a lot of life lessons to be learned before he would become a minister on Kauai and buy that beautiful red Jeep. And Naa learned those lessons the hard way.
At 15 years old, while living in Tonga, he joined a gang. Drugs and alcohol were a way of life for him. He believes the broken-home environment he lived in played a part in his demise.
“I wasn’t born with a halo. You can ask my parents about that,” Naa said. “I was a being a menace to society.”
But life changed for Naa. He straightened out and began studying to become a civil engineer. Then the tides turned even more, after people repeatedly approached him asking if he ever thought about becoming a minister.
“I would say, ‘No way, man,’” Naa said. “Believe it or not, I’m naturally a shy person. Public speaking was the last thing I wanted to do.”
But the calling, more of what he said was an undeniable conviction, was powerful.
“God gave me a sign. I knew I wouldn’t have peace of mind until I followed that conviction,” Naa said. “I listened to that still, small voice.”
And a donation helped bump him down the right road, too.
“A woman named Gloria heard about my story. Her husband had passed on and she was retiring from farming,” Naa said about when he was 21 years old and wanting to put the bad life behind him. “She donated a truckload of flowers.”
The flowers were orchids, hundreds of them. Naa and a friend sold them under a sign that said, “Support a good cause.” The earnings from the sale funded his trip to America and provided seed money for college tuition.
Since earning his Master’s Degree in divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Naa has traveled the world. His assignments have taken him from New York City to Kenya, Indonesia, Malaysia, England and Guatemala. He said he saw a family living on the edge of a footpath in India, which left a big impression on him. He became more grateful for what he has been blessed with.
“Just having the basic necessities; a roof over my head, a comfortable bed, a shower, any shower, not just a hot one, legs and the fact I can walk,” he said.
Naa and his wife, Waterlily, are adjusting to their new lifestyle. He got his jeep, a red one, just like he promised himself when he was a boy. Since arriving on Kauai, the pastor, who alternates Sunday services between the Kapaa and Lawai churches, has a mission. He wants to build trust with people by first ministering to their physical needs and teaching them natural remedies for better health. He also wants to befriend island youth, because Naa remembers the path he started to go down when he was young.
“I’m really looking forward to reaching out to young people. I can relate to them,” Naa said. “The greatest weapon we have is educating them about drug awareness. Anything that will take them out of that lifestyle.”