Today’s ʻOlele Hawaiʻi word is ʻOhana! ʻOhana means family. Disney fans will remember the animated film and subsequent television series “Lilo and Stitch” that came well before the more recently super-popular Moana! So, Lilo and Stitch is the story of a little Hawaiian girl who adopts an unusual pet who is actually a notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive hiding from the law. A running theme through the film is the Hawaiian value of ʻohana. Lilo reminds us that “ʻohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.” I love that sentiment and I want to add, ʻohana also means nobody is shut out or left alone.
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
And stretching out His hand toward His disciples,
He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!
For whoever does the will of My Father in
heaven is My brother and sister and mother”- Matthew 12:48-50
ʻOhana and Hānai
Technically speaking, the term ʻohana only refers to blood relatives. We use the word hānai to refer to those who are not blood relatives but who have been informally adopted into the family. However, ʻohana, for most people on the islands, includes adoptive family, close family friends and extended family. As a Christian, I love and appreciate the second use of the word. In Christ, we are brothers and sisters, adopted children of God. We often refer to our church family as our ‘ohana.
I love the fact that in God’s family, it doesn’t matter how much melanin you have in your skin, or what geographical region your ancestors came from or what language you speak or what caste or class you were born into or whether you are blue collar or white collar or a professional. Doing the will of God, makes you a child of God and a joint heir with Christ. Those who truly understand God, those who truly know God, love and respect all people the way God loves all people.
The Spirit of Adoption
When we are truly filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we realize that we too have have the “Spirit of Adoption” that Paul referred to. We are God’s hānai keiki (adopted children.) Just as God longed to adopt us into His family, His ʻohana, we too begin to desire to welcome all people into the ʻohana of God. We want them to know and be adopted by our Father.
When we really GET this value of ʻohana, the way God intended, we begin to view all people as potential members of our own family; our brothers and sisters. Our prejudices begin to crumble. Race doesn’t matter. Wealth doesn’t matter. Language doesn’t matter. Background doesn’t matter. Clothing style doesn’t matter. Even before they make a commitment to follow Christ, we draw people closer to our God by loving them like ʻohana. We show them they are loved and cared for. ʻOhana really does mean family and God says family means no one get’s shut out, left alone, left behind or forgotten. Let’s all be more intentional about increasing our ʻohana, the ʻohana of God!