The devastating impact of the wildfire that destroyed Lahaina and swept through West Maui in Hawaii, on Tuesday, August 8, is not yet fully known. At the time of this taping, 114 lives have been lost with hundreds still missing.
Pastor Erik VanDenburgh, president of the Hawaii Conference, wrote on August 9, “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.”
Pastor Bradford Newton, president of the Pacific Union Conference, said that the Pacific Union is collaborating closely with the leaders and members of the Hawaii Conference. “The work of healing and restoration from the Maui Fire will be a long process that has only just begun. We join the people of Maui in mourning the loss of their loved ones.” A specific fund has been initiated to collect donations to assist the Hawaii Conference in the wide scope of their response.
In Blythe, California, there are more than 100 unhoused people. Most live outdoors. There are no homeless shelters and few cooling centers. Local resources are scarce, but townsfolk—such as Joshua Lopez-Padilla, pastor of the Blythe Central Seventh-day Adventist Church—are doing what they can to help. In the remote desert community, Pastor Lopez-Padilla and volunteers from his congregation have been driving the streets—passing out food and water, sometimes ferrying people to their air-conditioned church.
In the middle of Lahaina's ash and rubble is a sign of hope for people in Maui: a famed, 150-year-old banyan tree that's heavily charred—but still standing. A symbol of resilience and hope.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us:
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.