Wanting to protect his land from Western colonization in 1839, Tonga’s Christian King George Tupou I had prayed: “O, God the Father, I give unto you my land and my people and all generations of people who follow after me. I offer them all to be protected by heaven.”
Tongan legend tells of the king bending down, picking up soil, and tossing it in the air as a symbolic act of conveying his land and people to God.
The significance of that moment is celebrated by Tongans in song, dance and poetry and is spoken about from the pulpit and in hymns.
There is no greater symbol of that national spirituality today than the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple.
Story by Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News. Lead image by Jeffrey D. Allred