Chaplains in Unique Role to Comfort Maui Residents

By   •   August 28, 2023

The massive destruction from recent Maui wildfires has claimed more than 100 lives, leaving thousands homeless. Many are being told they will never see their loved ones again. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are there to remind residents that the light of Jesus Christ can shine brightly even in the darkest times.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains are accompanying police officers in Maui as they deliver death notifications to the loved ones of those killed in the tragic wildfire.

Chaplain Jeff Kruithoff has been serving in Maui for the past couple weeks, and has witnessed how agonizing the “torturously slow” process of identifying victims has been for residents.

Many in the community have been waiting for over two weeks, not knowing if their missing loved one is dead or alive.

On one notification trip, chaplains ministered to 18 friends and family members after officers broke the news that the remains of their loved one, a father of nine, had been found. Amid the tears and loud sobs, the chaplains offered emotional support to those gathered on the front lawn.

Families of those who died are also experiencing a painful lack of closure and details about their loved one’s death due to the obliterating effect of the fires.

“After a tornado and hurricane, you can still find things to touch, feel, and see,” Kruithoff explained. “In a fire, these families have nothing to touch, and nothing to see.”

In the middle of immense grief and pain, chaplains have shared the comfort and peace of Jesus Christ with nearly 1,000 people— praying with residents and leaving helpful materials that will encourage them during grief.

They also make sure each person is aware of the Billy Graham 24/7 Prayer Line (888-388-2683), which they can call at any time for spiritual support.

“I always let them know there are thousands of people in the country praying for them,” Kruithoff said, adding that hearing this provides great comfort to many people.

As Kruithoff walked throughout the campus of one of the churches hosting our chaplains, he could hear the sweet tunes from a preschool summer school choir practice

The refrain of a well-known children’s song echoed faintly in the background, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty.”

Chaplains are reminding hurting communities in Hawaii of this truth and sharing how they can have hope in a mighty God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“We are planting seeds,” said Kruithoff. “We just need people to pray for those folks who have not received answers yet, and may not receive any due to the unique nature of this tragedy.”

Please continue to lift up the people of Hawaii in prayer, especially those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, have lost their home, or are enduring the agony of not knowing what has happened to a friend or family member.

 Do you know the comfort of Christ? Learn more today.