Maria Tonga (nee Naden) was born in Peak Hill N.S.W. and nurtured by Christian parents. Maria met her Husband John Tonga when she was in Sydney. They married and moved to Peak Hill where they both met the Lord.
Both felt the call of God to attend Bimbadeen Aboriginal Bible College at Cootamundra in NSW. They studied for three years and then received a field placement to work with Mark and Alexandra Naden at La Parouse in Sydney for 1 year.
The A.I.M. Peoples Church invited them to minister at Cherbourg in Queensland. For 6 years they were involved with this Aboriginal Church and the community at Cherbourg. In 2002 they moved to the Churches of Christ Aboriginal Community Centre at Logan.
The Tonga’s have 5 children. Their sons Willie, Sisi, Esi, have left home for employment; daughter Sipa is working; and Lina is at senior school. As a Christian mother of five Maria says, “The hardest part is when your children leave home – you are so concerned for their Christian nurture.”
The Tonga’s are a ‘big expandable’ family and have provided a ‘home’, safety and security to a number of young people and several families. The love and caring of John and Maria at the Logan Centre has had a deep and positive impact on several young people and families in need.
In 2005 Maria completed a Christian Counsellors Course; and in 2007 she began work as an Indigenous Family Support Worker with Life Line in the Referral for Active Intervention [RAI] programme.
Logan Church has contact with many children who come from homes where there is no Christian teaching. Maria was on her own to teaching some 30+ children each week in Sunday School – the contact group is at least double this! This is done in an open ‘picnic shelter’ on the grounds. It will be chilly on the cold winter mornings of Logan! (Does anyone have Sunday School resources, colouring pencils, felt pens, craft items, glue etc that could be channelled to this ministry? A big shed too would be an answer to prayer!)
Maria is also involved in Women’s Ministry and Logan has hosted Women’s Conventions. Maria says “It is the desire of my heart to move more into Women’s Ministry, have combined gatherings of aboriginal women sharing with women from different cultures for teaching, challenge and fellowship.’
John and Maria came ‘in faith’ to Logan believing that God will provide.
Maria’s favourite verse is God’s promise in Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go and guide you with my eye.”