Monday, Dec. 11, 2023 |
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LIHUE — Melinda Sullven marched from Wilcox Elementary School to the lawn in front of the Historic County Building under the Vermont flag on Saturday.
It was one of dozens of country and state symbols that waved in Kauai’s light trade winds as about 70 people marched, chanting “Jesus reigns” as they walked.
“There are so many cultures in Hawaii and in the United States,” said Sullven, from Kings Chapel in Hanamaulu. “We’re here praying for everyone. I do have family in Vermont, though.”
The event was the first-ever Jesus Reigns Celebration held in the United States. It gathers together Christians from many different churches to focus on Jesus of Nazareth, according to organizer John Small.
Among the more than 100 people at the Jesus Reigns Celebration was Gina Osmena, the woman who started the event in the Philippines in 2012. Now around 15,000 people join together each year for a single day of celebration, worship, fellowship and food.
“This is the fourth country that the Lord has called us to do this,” she said. “We’re all here as one body coming together to crown Jesus as the king of Kauai island.”
The Jesus Reigns Celebration began with one province in the Philippines and spread throughout the country in four years. Indonesia and Japan also took up the Jesus Reigns flags and have been holding events for two years.
Osmena said she’s hoping to see the same thing happen elsewhere in the United States.
“That fourth year, all 82 provinces (in the Philippines) were celebrating simultaneously,” she said. “So now it’s starting here (in Kauai) and what about all 50 states celebrating together simultaneously?”
Saturday’s event began with a parade down Rice Street, but that was just the beginning.
After the parade, attendees gathered on the lawn of the Historic County Building at the base of a stage, where Osmena welcomed everyone. That started an afternoon of worship and fellowship among people from several churches around Hawaii.
Eliseo Gumallaoi traveled from Oahu to join the celebration and to visit family on Kauai. Sharing the same shade was Sweet Kaious, who attends Aloha Church in Hanamaulu.
Pastor Roy “Rocky” Sasaki, who leads Kauai Island Ministries, said that’s what the whole event is about.
“There’s a real focus on connecting churches,” Sasaki said.
Remembering unity is important, Osmena said, because the focus of Christianity is on Jesus of Nazareth’s exaltation above human-created titles and power structures.
“This is the beginning of a new America,” Osmena said. “So today we’re declaring that all of Kauai belongs to Jesus.”
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