Last week’s wildfire in the historic town of Lahaina and surrounding areas of Maui County, Hawaii, was among the deadliest in US history. Included in the loss of life, homes, and infrastructure are Adventist residents of Lahaina, many of whom attend the Lahaina Seventh-day Adventist Church. Here are updates on and responses to the fire from the Hawaii Conference, Pacific Union Conference, and beyond. Donations are being directed to the Hawaii Conference’s “Maui Fire Relief” fund at Adventist Giving.
@mphawaii Lahaina Seventh-day Adventist Church survives the flames of the Lahaina wild fire. Everthing outside of its perimeter was burned but the main sanctuary still stands. What an awesome God. #lahainahawaii #lahainastrong #Godisamazing ♬ Our God - Acoustic - Chris Tomlin
From Bradford C. Newton, President, Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (August 18, 2023):
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I will never forget my shock and growing horror as we witnessed those first images of the West Maui Fires. Words can never describe the magnitude of this tragedy. The historic community of Lahaina engulfed and obliterated by the flames. The harrowing stories of survivors fleeing by any means possible, including running for their lives into the ocean. While the loss of property is staggering, it is the unthinkable loss of fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends that fills us with profound grief. At this moment our hearts are filled with mourning.
Yet, in this crisis moment when words fail, this amazing community has come together to love in beautiful and practical ways. I picture a line of people stretching from the shore to a single boat carrying much-needed supplies—each one passing to the next one the boxes of supplies that we take for granted but are now precious to the victims of this disaster. This scene has been multiplied in countless ways across Maui in meeting this emergency with care, kindness, and direct action in the midst of chaos.
From Erik VanDenburgh, Hawaii Conference President (August 9, 2023)
Dear Church Ohana,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you about the tragic news of the wildfires burning on Maui. While there have been multiple areas affected, it appears that the west side has suffered the greatest loss. Members have lost homes and are displaced; our church kitchen, parsonage, and part of the sanctuary are gone. We don't know the full extent of the losses on Maui; however, we know that our people are grieving deeply and their lives will be forever changed.
A coordinated effort between the Hawaii Conference and the Kahului SDA Church is underway to assist our members and students who have been impacted by the fires. Makeshift living areas are being set up at the church to temporarily house those who have been evacuated, and we have put a team together to provide food and basic necessities.
From Lake Union Herald, “Indiana Youth Escape Maui Fire Now Assisting Relief Efforts,” by Danni Thaw (August 17, 2023):
Jolted from his sleep, it was 3 a.m. on the morning of August 8 when a phone call woke Pastor Kamil Metz, senior pastor at the Evansville Seventh-day Adventist Church. The caller was Dallas Matthew, 26, one of his members serving this summer as a student literature evangelist on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Dallas’s news was grave — he called to report that deadly wildfires had engulfed Lāhainā, the town in Maui that Metz left the week prior.
“When the fires started that morning, we had already been experiencing heavy winds from the night before. Branches were falling from trees. It felt extremely chaotic,” said Jaxson. “We all thought it was a hurricane, but it started to pick up midday, so we decided not to go out into the field.”
Jaxson, Dallas, and a youth team had been working as colporteurs going door to door in Lāhainā to spread the gospel ministry. But when their group leader, Mario Bravo, noticed the severe winds that day, he made a providential decision to avoid going out. Little did they know that they were escaping the path of destruction that would soon engulf the very area they had just left.
Title image by Pacific Union Conference
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