A devastating wildfire that ripped through the town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii last week has left 96 people dead so far, with the number of fatalities likely to climb significantly higher in the coming weeks. A local pastor is urging believers to pray for the specific needs of the local community.
As details slowly emerge following the destruction of all of the cell towers in the Lahaina area, the extent of the damage was difficult for observers to comprehend, with virtually every building in the town of 13,000 burned to the ground and an estimated loss of $5.6 billion. The cause of the wildfires are still under investigation, which were fueled by dry summer conditions and strong winds from a nearby hurricane, causing the fire to spread at speeds of up to one mile per minute. As the town became inundated by the wildfire, local officials failed to activate warning sirens and instead used social media posts. The disaster is already the deadliest wildfire in over a century.
“The descriptions that we are being given is nothing short of Hiroshima,” Pastor Waxer Tipton, of One Love Ministries in Hawaii, explained on the August 11 edition of “Washington Watch.” “… [T]he guesstimate right now for those that are on the ground is [there could eventually be up to] 800 [fatalities or] more. … So it is devastation beyond compare.”
Tipton went on to describe just how harrowing it was for survivors, many of whom were forced to flee from the approaching wildfire on foot into the ocean to escape the flames due to traffic gridlock.
“[I]t’s definitely the time right now [for] the church to mobilize,” he emphasized. “As soon as we heard about it, we started to make our church a sanctuary so that families and all the tourists, we have 4,000 tourists there, [so] there’s not even enough food and supplies for all of the locals there. … And so families are able to come there and have some place to stay in the meantime. And so what’s happening here is the churches are rallying together with food and water and supplies and especially fuel … But the main situation, the main need … is going to be resources and getting those resources to the churches, to the pastors, because even if you’re in the shelter and you ran for your life, you don’t even have a blanket, much less an air mattress of some kind. Many of them don’t even have their IDs because it happened so fast.”
Ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse are also responding to the disaster. Edward Graham, chief operating officer at Samaritan’s Purse, recently described on “Washington Watch” how his organization would be deploying volunteers to help those who lost their homes to sift through the remains. “This is where we go through and we look for materials or for artifacts. Maybe it’s a trinket, maybe it’s a ring, something that’s important to that homeowner. It helps them bring closure during a time like this. … [S]o we expect to go there and work through the local church and help with sifting once this this fire is over.”
“We should be praying,” Graham continued. “I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer.”
Pastor Tipton concurred, pointing out the need for prayer for the specific needs of those affected by the ongoing Hawaiian wildfires, which continue to burn.
“Pray for calm,” he underscored. “People are in a state of panic and fear which is creating some hostile situations at the moment. Secondly, pray for rain. This is a dry side of the island, and we don’t really see any in the forecast, and it is much needed. Third, pray for power and cell towers to be expediently returned so that help can begin. And fourth, pray for all the agencies seeking to gather together can coordinate and work together alongside the churches to bring much-needed aid.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.
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