Hawaii Hurricane and Wildfire Met With ‘Hope and Healing’ by State’s Baptist Churches

As Hawaii braced Friday for Hurricane Lane’s impact, the state’s Baptists were poised for disaster relief ministry.
Screen capture from Weather.com

As Hawaii braced Friday for Hurricane Lane’s impact, the state’s Baptists were poised for disaster relief ministry. Meanwhile, one Maui church sprang into action at 2 a.m. after a large brush fire, fueled by Lane’s winds, threatened its facility and forced evacuations.

Lane weakened Aug. 24 to a Category 2 hurricane, according to media reports. But the Big Island already had received 30 inches of rain in one location, with flooding in some areas. Maui and Oahu, including the capital city of Honolulu with nearly 1 million area residents, were expected to experience hurricane conditions Aug. 24 or 25.

Among the Hawaii Southern Baptist churches most threatened was Lahaina Baptist Church on Maui, where a brush fire was yards away from the church building early Friday morning. The fire was reported overnight and had burned between three and four acres by Friday morning, according to media reports. Lahaina Baptist’s building was safe as of 8 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, pastor Jay Wright told Baptist Press.

The fire forced evacuations and left about 4,000 Maui Electric customers without power, The New York Times reported. But amid the fire threat, Lahaina members had their minds on ministry.

“Things are really bad here right now,” Wright said in an email at 5:30 a.m. Hawaii time. “Massive fire started a couple hours ago fueled by brush and 45mph winds. More than 100 homes evacuated in Lahaina. Fire is across the street from our church and members are assisting Red Cross shelter at our civic center and opening homes to shelter others. We are working alongside other churches in our community to offer hope and healing.”

Later, in a Facebook Live video, Wright said the beginning of rain was “a beautiful sight.”

Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention disaster relief volunteers are on standby for hurricane response, the convention’s DR director Darrell McCain told BP. A mobile kitchen was standing by in Hilo on the Big Island along with a shower trailer. A recovery trailer on Oahu is equipped to remove downed trees from yards and help with flooding.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, David Roach