Signs of Hope Are Visible in Maui Despite Extreme Trauma

Nearly a week after the horrific Maui fires, the relief effort is in full swing. Churches and numerous humanitarian aid organizations, including CBN’s Operation Blessing, are doing everything they can to help the people of Maui find hope and fresh life after tragedy.

The Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina, built in 1846, appears to have escaped the fire unscathed, despite the fact that destroyed residences surround it.

And hope is also what the staff of Harvest Kumulani Church in Lahaina is attempting to provide.

“And the hope is Jesus, and our desire is to spread the love of Jesus,” said Pastor Gabe Velasquez of Harvest Church. “I saw it on Sunday. We had an incredible service. We had over 600 people show up and that’s without telling anybody and there’s no cell service around here right now. You know, our God is the God of hope and he’s a healer. And this place needs that more than anything.”

Those who have lost everything require fundamental essentials. Harvest Kumulani is collaborating with humanitarian organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse to offer aid to the afflicted.

CBN’s Operation Blessing is also on the ground in Maui, collaborating with Youth With A Mission to distribute essential relief materials including as generators, gas grills, tents, tarps, and clothing to people in need.

Just last month, Harvest Kumulani’s Sr. Pastor Greg Laurie and I walked down the streets of Lahaina that were busy with tourists and shoppers and stood under the famous banyan tree, a gift to the island in 1873 by Missionaries from India. Even though the flames consumed many of the historic landmarks, the tree, which covers almost two acres, appears to have survived. Pastor Laurie says, it’s another sign of hope.

“I think when we’re rooted in Christ, we can survive anything. And that’s really a picture of the people, especially the Christians on Maui. You know, their faith is strong, but many of them have lost literally everything. They have lost their homes, they have lost their livelihood and even more tragically, so many have lost their lives,” he said.

Pastor Laurie says he believes Harvest Kumulani, the Maui branch of his L.A.-based church, is there, for such a time as this.

“And we’ve had our own people take other folks into their homes and everybody has a roof over their head and then a meal in their stomach. And so, this is what the church does best. You know, we can shine in times of difficulty,” Laurie said.

He says the question now shouldn’t be why – but what?

“Like, what do we do? Well, what we do is we step in, and we help people in the name of Jesus Christ. We give them food; we give them water. But more than that, we give them hope. And that is what we are hoping and planning on doing. Really, in the years ahead, the relief efforts will come in, buildings will be rebuilt but lives are lost. And our work as a church on the island will carry on as we try to bring both help and hope to people on the island of Maui,” Laurie said.’

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