The pictures from Maui, like this destroyed home, stand as testimonies of the terrifying experiences of fire survivors. Our staff while visiting Maui heard many heartbreaking stories of loss. Patty* lost her home, but also uncle. Her aunt was on the phone with her husband as he tried to escape the house as the fire engulfed it. She listened as he tried multiple avenues escape from the burning house before the cell phone failed, the last conversation they ever had. Locals expect the hundreds still missing will be determined to be fatalities. Our team is returning next week to offer healing conversations and Trauma Care training for local churches.
The loss of life is crushing, but beyond that, the close knit local residents are also grieving a loss of community. Patty* said, "Community and family are the most important. The devastating part is not that we lost all of our physical belongings but that we lost our community of people. Three and four generations of families have not just lived in the same town, but have gone to the same high school." The oldest high school west of the Mississippi River was damaged by smoke from the fire. Our local church partners are well aware of the importance of 'ohana', the strong familial bond in this culture, and as a result, expect to see more of the church's recovery efforts focused on intentionally investing in care for people. One church is responding by baking bread and then simply breaking that bread over shared family meals.
But the physical loss also presents a threat to community and family. "We are trying to figure out what we are going to do long term." Economic factors like loss of livelihoods and tourism revenues, the challenge of paying for interim housing while still paying on a damaged or destroyed home, and high costs of living now forced higher are creating lots of additional stress.
Given all of these factors, plus other complexities that come with fire recovery and living on an island, our local church partners know that this will be a long term effort for community restoration. And they are committed to seeing that restoration effort include a strong presence of the ohana of God.
- Pray for comfort and peace for the the families and communities that have been affected by this fire. We pray for opportunities for churches on and around Maui to support the displaced communities as they continue reunification efforts, as they take inventory of what was lost, and as they start the long road of recovery.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment for our staff and the churches we are meeting with as we seek the best way to move forward strategically in this new mission field created by the fire. Pray that we would grasp the transformational ministry opportunities over the many obvious needs.
- Give to our Maui Wildfire Response to support long-term efforts to minister to the communities churches and families who have been impacted.
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