A TRIBUTE: "Samoa's Proverbs 31 Woman: Meloma Afuola"
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears God should be praised." Proverbs 31:30.
Perhaps, less known to many today as one of the premier maverick Samoan women in the upper echelons of the American Samoa Government with newly elected-Samoan officials as with the early administration of Governor Lutali, Meloma Afuola was nominated a Cabinet Member, once President of DBAS and headed other ASG entities, her opinion in financial and fiscal matters was revered to a mostly male dominated elite group.
Later tapped as one of the first Samoan females in senior management in the country's most lucrative industries, the tuna canneries, it was after all these prestigious positions that she would finally say, she found her greatest calling to serve her people in the fellowship of praying women and has been hailed since her passing to epitomize the Proverbs 31 woman many aspire to be.
At the time of her death, Meloma Afuola, matai title "Filiofaleupolu", was the third sitting National President of the American Samoa Women's Aglow Fellowship International since 2009, she passed away peacefully in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, October 27th, and was transported to her beloved native land by her children and members of her family arriving this past Monday night. After a long bout with terminal illness that was never obvious because of her calm demeanor and beautiful regal appearance, Mrs. Afuola was a champion of the women of faith, seeking God fervently and aspiring to the admonition of the Apostle Paul in the book of Titus 2 verse 4-5, "...urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, tending their homes, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
For someone extremely brilliant and intelligent in the affairs of ASG, the private sector and especially the Samoan culture, she was a no nonsense manager and financial guru with her signature calm countenance and classy features, that some dare say she would have been a formidable candidate for first Samoan female Governor. But that was not Meloma Afuola aspired to be, who had quietly said and often taught the women of faith that life is not without challenges, it is only when we have gone through the deep valleys of life that the Lord can uplift us, if we are truly humbled and repentant to seek His perfect will by serving others and winning souls for God's kingdom. To her, being in the fellowship of praying women and then serving as National President of the local Aglow International chapter was life fulfilling and completed what she had always longed for, to dispense her acquired vast knowledge and personal experience of God's omnipotent grace and mercy upon her, in personal trials and tribulations and especially in battling a disease that has given her a platform to tell everyone of God's sustained goodness and unfailing love. Her husband of many years, Afioga Nanai, a'o le Tulafalesili le Saufai-ga, Afuola Kalasa, as well as her children and grandchildren would vouch to the truth of Titus 2:4-5, that their beloved Meloma was obedient to the words of Scripture, "...love their husbands and children... so that no one will malign the Word of God."
A faithful member of the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) in their home village of Vatia, Meloma Afuola has given credence to the notion of being a born-again Christian and being "saved", something that many Pentecostals and Evangelicals are known for but as Aglow President, Meloma's mere presence has encouraged many of the women in mainline churches that the salvation of Jesus Christ in being "born-again" is really for everyone. The history of the Aglow International reveals it as a trans-denominational organization of Christian women and most recently included, men, that some Christian leaders have called a "global movement". Now established in 172 nations on 6 continents, all of which have indigenous leaders overseeing the work in their nations, the Women's Aglow Fellowship began in 1967 with four women led by Jane Hansen Hoyt who expressed a desire to meet together as Christians without denominational boundaries. The first general meeting was held in Seattle, Washington, USA, close to where Aglow's Worldwide Headquarters exists today.
Two decades later in 1987, Rev. Dr. Fa'avaina Tiumalu-Tilo, co-founder of the Voice of Christ Full Gospel Church, helped bring the Women's Aglow Fellowship to American Samoa and began one of the first Pacific chapters of this international Ministry that has Candlelights and Fellowships in many of the villages and local communities and have influenced affiliations with members in the islands of the Manu'atele. When Ina Tilo had stepped down as the first National Aglow President of American Samoa in 2003, she in deep prayer and God's guidance handpicked Rev. Poulima Lagafuaina to carry the torch of faith for the women of Samoa as only the second President of Aglow. And in seeking God through prayer and fasting for new leadership after her years service, Pastor Lagafuaina convened the Aglow Board and revealed their next leader to be Meloma Afuola, who has led the women's spiritual organization in the territory until the time of her passing. In 2001, Meloma was initiated as the local President of the Vatia Aglow Women's Fellowship whom she held dear for many years; in 2004 she was elevated to the National Vice President of Leadership and Training of the Aglow Ministry. Coupled with the National Presidency of the Aglow in the territory, she was also able to dually maintain the Chairperson of the Aglow International Pacific Region which was initially held by Poulima Lagafuaina, a most admirable calling given the many nations in the Pacific involved in the global movement of Aglow International.
For each member of the Board that includes faithful women leaders from various denominations, Rev. Amy Tavai, Vice President of Leadership Training, Rev. Elaine Soliai-Niko, VP of Outreach; Pastor Sofa'i Solomona, Executive Secretary; Mrs. Maota Aumoeualogo-Young, Executive Treasurer, Rev. Poulima Lagafuaina, Prayer Coordinator, Mrs. Latasi Pase, Prayer Coordinator, Mrs. Fa'aluaina Afuola-Mitchell, VP Field Representative, who is Meloma's daughter; Rev. Selina Faumuina-Taliva'a, Teacher of the Word, and Rose Su'esu'e, Worship Leader and the entire American Samoa Aglow Women's Fellowship, it is indeed a sad time to be apart in the body, but all rejoice that in leaving this life, their leader has heard her Savior say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into My kingdom." While in keeping with her love of her country and the spiritual aspects of her beloved Samoan culture, many more can agree that in her most regal, aga fa'atamalii ma le tausa'afia ole auauna fafine a le Atua, Meloma Afuola would be smiling prettily for the women of Samoa to heed the call, "Ia pa-‘u se toa, toe tu se toa," with the additional Christian encouragement, "mo le viiga o le Atua." (May one warrior fall, and another rise for the glory of God!)