In the aftermath of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in the last century, BGAV-participating church Ma Ke Alo o (whose name means Presence in Hawaiian) is offering their presence to those who have lost homes and loved ones in Lahaina. Impact Disaster Response, in partnership with Texas Baptist Men and North Carolina Baptists on Mission, is working to support the community through funds and other resources as the needs become clear.
Eun Strawser, pastor of Ma Ke Alo o, shared stories of people escaping from their homes and surviving by driving to the ocean and treading water for hours until the Coast Guard could rescue them. The church’s focus in the immediate aftermath is “providing for first [their] church communities’ families whose homes in Lahaina have burned down, next aiding families with young children to receive medicine that needs to be shipped, and lastly, blankets to the seniors.” Impact Disaster Response partnerships also connect us with Hawaiian Baptists, who anticipate a callout beginning in the coming weeks.
In our call with pastor Strawser, she shared that there will be additional challenges as recovery begins – the homes lost are on land sacred to the people whose families have lived there for centuries. As is often the case in a disaster, the “doers” in her church are desperate to do something to help, but right now there is little they can offer beyond their presence. The emotional and spiritual toll of recovery will be immense, and most people are not specifically trained in fire recovery (commonly called “ash out”). The physical work of recovery will require a nuanced response, and it will be some time before any external volunteers would be helpful.
To respond with care and respect, initial support will be financial. Pastor Strawser said there could be need for some specialized training for locals who want to respond—crisis care and ash out training being the two most likely. As the response continues, any volunteers we send will be there to support what the local churches are doing, and those volunteers will learn how to relate to people cross culturally in a way that shows respect and offers dignity in the midst of crisis.
Currently the greatest need is funding—Ma Ke Alo o is providing for several families who lost their homes in Lahaina and working toward meeting the basic needs of children and seniors who have been displaced. As the recovery process continues, the need will grow.
Learn more on how you can support here.