Alofagia "Alofa" Eli-Nofoa, pastor of the Blazing Torch Nazarene Fellowship church plant in Auckland, New Zealand, passed away 2 September at the age of 53.
“Pastor Alofagia, as a pastor on the Auckland South Network, had an inquiring mind who asked good questions of church process," said Bruce Allder, superintendent of the New Zealand District. "He desired to connect with those outside of the church and looked for bridges into the faith community for those who were in need. His passion for serving will be sadly missed as he came alongside the disenfranchised of the South Auckland community.”
Born 9 April 1966 in Samoa, Alofa graduated with both a national certificate and school certificate from Chanel College in 1985, a Diploma of Ministry from South Pacific Nazarene Theological College in Samoa, and Bachelor of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines in 1994. While studying at APNTS, Alofa was a member of the Student Council and married fellow student Cathy Lyn Detalo, a graduate of Visayan Nazarene Bible College in 1995.
After their graduation from APNTS in 1998, Alofa and Cathy and their two children moved to Samoa, where Alofa and Cathy taught at South Pacific Nazarene Theological College. In 2002 they moved to New Zealand, and Alofa became pastor of the Napier Church of the Nazarene in 2003. The following year, the family moved to Auckland and pioneered the Oak Tree Nazarene Fellowship. Later that year, Alofa was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene by General Superintendent Eugenio Duarte on the New Zealand District.
“Alofagia always [thought] big and outside the box," said Peniperite Fakaua, former principal of South Pacific Nazarene Theological College. "He’s always [reached] out to the 'others' and [was] never comfortable with the status-quo of evangelistic approach. He continuously [found] new challenges and [was] never afraid to take huge risk. He is a great loss to the Samoan Christian community, especially to the denomination he love[d] so dearly.”
In addition to pastoring, at the time of his death Alofa was also cooking and serving coffee to the homeless and street people of South Auckland.
"He saw what he was doing as an extension of Bresee's ministry, and also to Bresee's desire to 'Christianize Christianity,'" said Floyd Cunningham, former APNTS president. "He was also teaching theology classes for non-Nazarenes who wished to join the Church of the Nazarene. He was putting church history into practice. I was very, very proud of him. ... what a loss!"
Alofa is survived by his wife, Penina; his former wife, Cathy Lyn Detalo, and their three children, Lovelyn Eli-Nofoa, Francis Bless Eli-Nofoa, and Victor Eli-Nofoa; and two grandchildren, Tyzion and Baby Alofa.