'The Hope Is Jesus': Signs of Hope Are Visible in Maui Despite Extreme Trauma
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Nearly a week after the devastating Maui fires the relief effort is in full swing. Churches and numerous humanitarian aid groups, including CBN's Operation Blessing, are doing all they can to help the people of Maui find hope and new life after tragedy.
Volunteers who sailed from Maalaea Bay, Maui, form an assembly line on Kaanapali Beach to unload donations from a boat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
One sign of hope, the Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina, built in 1846, appears to have survived untouched by the flames, even though burned houses are all around it.
And hope is also what the staff of Harvest Kumulani Church near Lahaina, is trying to give people.
"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."
Congregants of Harvest Kumulani Church worship on Maui.
And those who've lost everything need basic necessities. That's why Harvest Kumulani is teaming up with relief organizations, including Samaritan's Purse, to bring aid to the victims.
CBN's Operation Blessing is also in Maui working with Youth With A Mission to send needed relief items like generators, gas grills, tents, tarps, and clothes to those 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.'
CBN News Prayer Event for Maui
Watch the CBN Pray for Maui prayer event Friday at 4:00 pm ET on the CBN News app and CBN News YouTube:
CBN News hosts Dan Andros and Tré Goins-Phillips will talk to CBN News Anchor Wendy Griffith and Operation Blessing's Justin Jenkins. They will discuss last week's devastating wildfire and pray for survivors who are experiencing a traumatic loss. CBN's Operation Blessing is on the ground in Hawaii providing critical relief items to help survivors, who have lost everything. Support their disaster relief efforts HERE.
We also encourage you to also tell us that you're standing with the people of Lahaina, Maui, by signing the CBN Prayer petition HERE at CBNPrays.com.
HAWAII UPDATE: Our team is on the ground in #Maui connecting with our partners to provide critical aid to the precious families whose lives have been turned upside down by the deadly #wildfires.— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) August 17, 2023
Help victims of disaster at https://t.co/BgxZIPRH9k#OBI #HawaiiFires pic.twitter.com/MHNh9eni7p
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