Church of God Hawaii Continues Maui Relief

The following is a report from Hawaii Church of God Administrative Bishop Rob Taylor on the ongoing tragedy of the wildfires on Maui.

On Tuesday evening, August 8, the Hawaiian island of Maui faced a perfect storm situation. Hurricane Dora passed 70 miles south of the islands and we are in the middle of our dry season. Rains from the hurricane moved west and south of the storm. North of the storm Hawaii got only dry high winds. There were sustained winds nearing 40 mph, consistent gusts of 50-60 mph and at times 80 mph. The high winds knocked down power lines sparking wildfires. Although firefighters responded quickly and thought they had the initial fire contained the winds picked up again and the fire rapidly grew out of control. Evacuation orders were given, and people had only minutes to flee historic Lahaina town. Most of those who got out did so having only the clothes they were wearing. Not everyone got out. As of Saturday morning, approximately 1,000 people were still unaccounted for. As of Sunday, August 13, 96 had been confirmed dead with hundreds still missing.

On Wednesday, August 9, I met with the pastors on Maui. I appointed a Maui Disaster Relief (MDR) Team. They will assist with setting up a distribution location, getting essential supplies, and distributing them to people in need. With shipping being expensive and taking weeks to arrive, we quickly realized our main need was going to be money to purchase items to assist families.

With initial funds received from donors we were able to purchase 21 large boxes of essential items here on Oahu. Among them were soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, non-perishable food items, bottled water, clothing (including undergarments, and complete outfits), diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby food, batteries, and phone chargers. We had a great group of people gather to help put the items together, sort clothing by gender and size, pack boxes, and pray for the families displaced by the fires.

On Sunday, August 13, members of the destroyed ICF church met for services with the congregation in Wailuku, Maui, one of the four Church of God congregations on the island.
(click photo to enlarge)

Friday a team from Oahu consisting of Hawaii YD Director Brian Whitelock, his wife Zara, and daughter Adi, Pastor Evan Palmer (1st chair of Hawaii State Council), Ian Mateo, Taelor Maganis, my wife, Candie, and myself flew to Maui. We picked up a load of essential supplies we had shipped from the Air Cargo company in Honolulu and delivered these items to the Wailuku Church of God where the members of our Maui Disaster Relief Team were waiting. Together we set-up a distribution line and were able to serve approximately 100 families. A significant number of those receiving goods were wearing the same clothes they have had since evacuating Lahaina on Tuesday. All they had before our distribution were the clothes on their backs. In addition to the supplies, we were able to have prayer with each carload of people who came. It was a highly emotional day with many tears shed, hugs given, and prayers prayed.

Although we were on Maui, we were unable to get into Lahaina before we left on Friday, but have received photos and videos from people who did not evacuate, survived, and now can’t leave. Through photo and video, we have been able to confirm that the Lahaina (International Christian Fellowship) Church of God has been totally lost. I was with Pastor Benny Mariano when he saw the photos. We are also 99% sure the home of the pastor of our second church in Lahaina has been totally lost. We have not been able to get photos of the specific house but photos we have seen of the neighborhood looks as if all homes were destroyed.

We have a second, even larger shipment of supplies scheduled for Monday, August 14. Our team will return to Maui on Tuesday of this week to again join the Maui Team and set-up for distribution.

God has given us so much favor as these two large shipments have been shipped air cargo at no cost to us. This has saved a significant amount of money and enabled us to get the desperately need essentials to Maui in a speedy fashion.

We have been so encouraged by how our great Church of God family has responded to this tragedy in Hawaii. Many have prayed, contacted us, and sent assistance. Each of these have proven inestimable in value and impact.

To contribute to the Maui disaster relief efforts, please click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and denote Project#765-0036.

(Faith News will continue to follow up with this evolving story as reports warrant)

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