Brian L. Boshard


POSTED: Friday, December 25, 2009

God is with us.

For Kahu Brian L. Boshard, associate pastor of Hawaii's oldest Christian church, the reassuring message that no human being is ever truly alone resonates on Christmas Day and every day.

Moku'aikaua Church was founded in Kailua-Kona in 1820 by Congregationalist missionaries from Boston with the blessing of the young Hawaiian king Liholiho (Kamehameha II).

Besides being a historic and tourist site, Moku'aikaua remains a dynamic house of worship, attracting more than 250 people on an average Sunday, with higher attendance during the winter months.

Boshard, 49, grew up in the church; his father, Henry Kanoelani Boshard, became senior pastor in 1964.

The elder Boshard retired in 2006 and his son, who had worked part time there since 1996 while also teaching and coaching at Kealakehe Intermediate School, left the classroom and took up church work full time.

At Kealakehe, Boshard had adapted the physical education program to include students with disabilities, a passion he continues in a church ministry that allows people with limited mobility to participate in outrigger canoe paddling.

He is finishing up a master's degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, building on bachelor's degrees in business and economics, a teaching certificate, and a master's in kinesology, all from the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

Boshard and wife, Halani, have four children, ranging in age from 3 to 21. The whole family delights in spending time outdoors, outrigger canoe paddling, surfing and fishing. Boshard also manages to coach basketball and get in some golfing now and then.

QUESTION: Is Jesus getting short shrift at Christmas these days?

ANSWER: Jesus gets a short shrift every day, which is why those believers in Jesus Christ have such an important role in presenting the good news of salvation to all peoples of all nations through our King Jesus the savior of the world!

Q: What are the defining characteristics of a Christian?

A: Ultimately, what defines a believer in Jesus the christ is a person's faith and who claims that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The nature of our god is displayed by those who choose to love rather than reject, who choose joy over hatred, peace rather than violence, patience and perseverance as opposed to jealousy and envy, gentleness not condemnation, faith over shame, virtue rather than guilt, purity over lying, wisdom not lust, and justice over greed.

Q: What brings people to church?

A: If I knew the answer, we would have to hold church services in a stadium.

If you were to ask people to join you for dinner, what would make them come, what would make them stay and what would make them come back?

I believe real relationship-building is the key to anyone attending anything. … Those who visit a church professing Jesus as the savior are normally invited by a person or people that they know. The role of the church leaders is to be authentic, real down-to-earth lovers of Jesus and the word, and to demonstrate that joy in a genuine and sincere way.

Q: What do pastors really think of congregants who only show up at Christmas and Easter?

A: I'm not sure what all pastors think, but for me it really is our best opportunity to be good representatives of Christ our Lord. The truth is that we have to rely on God to draw people closer to hearing and trusting his word. Our role is be Christlike in everything that we say and do. Consequently, when we make mistakes, we have to own up and make things right.

Q: We've written so much lately about Hawaii's poor economy. Do you see the impact at the collection plate?

A: I see an impact at the dinner plate, so, yes, there is always going to be that kind of economic relationship involved. What is really important is living with faith and being certain that God will provide all of our needs, no matter what economic condition we face or social challenges that occur.

Q: Are people using more church outreach services during the downturn?

A: Here in Kona, we have seen an increase in the community's use of our food ministry over the past six months. The basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter are high priorities for all churches, nonprofit organizations and the private sector to consider pouring resources into.

Q: Are more people coming to church, seeking spiritual relief during the hard times?

A: Oftentimes it takes a certain challenge in a person's life, a challenge that cannot be overcome by a person's own might, to shift their focus on God's redemption and love. So, when times are tough, the tough at some point seek God. The good news is that if a person seeks God, he or she will find God. We of the household of faith in Jesus try to help people seek out the one true god.

Q: Scientists seem to be getting closer to discovering evidence of life in other galaxies. If they ever do, do you think it will alter Christians' view of God and the origins of the universe?

A: The god of wonders is beyond the galaxies and is still in charge of holding it all together. What scientists have been getting closer to is the realization that all that we see has been created and God's fingerprints are all over universe!

Q: Your church suffered serious damage in the 2006 earthquake. How are things now?

A: Praise the Lord we are still standing and looking forward to beginning a renovation plan for this new year 2010. Our structure has been blessed with amazing architectural and engineering design. When the Hulihe'e Palace across the street had to close down for several years of repair, we were able to hold our church service the morning of the earthquake. We had an engineering firm assess our damages and they have drawn up the plans that will help stabilize the church's foundation and roof.

Now it is time for looking for financial help from the both private and public sectors. (See http://www.mokuaikaua.org for information about how to contribute.)

Q: What is your main message on Christmas?

A: We can think about the name given by the prophet Isaiah, who first wrote down the name Emmanuel, (Isaiah 7:14) which means “;God is with us.”; To me, that message rings not just for Christmas, but each and every day. … We are never alone.