My Tribute to Monte Ohia.
By: Pastor Ray Minniecon.
On behalf of Australia’s Aboriginal people.
Monte Ohia was a proud tribal man from Aotearoa who lived out his tribal heritage in our modern world. Monte was different. He was a true tribal man in modern shoes. He was unique. Attractive. Yet there were times when I thought Monte was one of the loneliest men I had ever met. He was always hungry for fellowship and friendship. He possessed a spirit and a character that inspired and challenged all of us in different ways.
He challenged me in three areas of my feeble attempts to be a better follower of Jesus.
Firstly, he challenged me to lift my game in the area of my faith in God. Monte raised the barrier in my understanding of faith. Monte knew how to put his faith into overalls. It seemed that he woke up every day ready for work. And he possessed a faith that gave life and meaning to his work and he was involved in a work that gave life and meaning to his faith.
His challenge to me was to equal his faith and then take faith to another level, if that was possible. He challenged me to put my faith into overalls. Make it work for our Indigenous people’s future. He also challenged me to put this faith into running shoes. In particular, a particular brand of running shoes. To him faith was like the Nike slogan: Just do it! By just doing it, results would follow. To Monte, faith was also about running a race against extraordinary odds. The challenging times we live in. The seasons of rapid change that we are experiencing as Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people are in a race against so many challenging social, political and religious powers and forces. A strong faith was needed to keep abreast of these changes and challenges so that us tribal peoples can do the things necessary to help and guide our people through these turbulent times both locally and globally.
I could never fit his running shoes. They were too big for my feet. Nevertheless, no matter what size our running shoes, faith was needed to keep us going in the right direction and at the right pace and provide the right answers at the right time for our mob.
To me, Monte was an ordinary tribal man with an extraordinary tribal faith.