Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) have been serving in Hawaii since the tragic August wildfires on Maui.
As residents try to put their lives back together, chaplains are offering emotional and spiritual support while sharing the love and peace that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
One chaplain and BG-RRT staff member, Richard Brown, ministered to others in Maui after his parents’ church burned down in early August. His father, 81-year-old Arza Brown, pastored Grace Baptist Church Lahaina for 50 years. The Sunday following the wildfires, his church met in a coffee shop to be together and worship God.
Franklin Graham recently visited the site where the church once stood. Chaplains, along with volunteers from disaster relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, have been caring for others in the area.
Today I was in Maui with our staff and Samaritan’s Purse volunteers working in the aftermath of the tragic wildfire that…
Read more stories of God at work in Maui:
The One Who Brings Healing
Chaplain Bob Baptist was praying that God would guide him in ministering to others when he saw a young woman and her two children at a nearby park.
When he asked how she was holding up, the woman pulled out her phone and showed a video of her family evacuating.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Bob. “It was just black smoke higher than the trees and I was thinking, ‘How in the world could anybody get out of there?’”
Although the woman managed to escape the horrific situation with her parents and kids, her grandmother passed away in the fire. The woman talked with Bob about the anxiety she was experiencing.
Bob, who also works as a grief counselor, helped her understand that her feelings are a normal response to trauma. He also shared about the One who loves her unconditionally and can offer eternal life and lasting joy: Jesus Christ.
They prayed together as she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ, asking God to forgive her sins and fill her with His peace.
Afterwards, “Her whole countenance changed,” Bob said. “It was very moving.”
Finding Hope in the Ruins
Chaplains Dale and Cathy Nordgaarden have witnessed God provide a light in the darkness for many Hawaiians.
Ronnie and Melissa had just settled into their home in Lahaina, Maui, in June after four years of remodeling, only to watch it burn to the ground months later.
“No one will find anything there. Everything is gone,” Melissa sobbed, unable to continue speaking with chaplains as she showed them photos of the rubble.
The next day, the Nordgaardens visited the couple at their property as volunteers sifted through the remnants of their home. Melissa hoped they would find two sentimental items: a pair of bronze baby booties and diamond earrings.
Those were the first two things pulled from the sea of dust.
“God met her intimately in that moment,” said Cathy, adding how God showed the couple that He can bring beauty and restoration to broken and imperfect lives.
The Lahaina couple opened up about how they had strayed from their walk with Christ but wanted to get back on track. They prayed with Dale and Cathy to rededicate their lives to the Lord and were smiling when the chaplains left that day.
“[We often] see healing taking place as things are found in the ashes and as [people] are prayed for and listened to,” said Cathy.
“The agenda can only be to love, to listen, and to wait on the Lord to lead.”
Please continue to pray for those who have been affected by this disaster in Hawaii and for the chaplains who are ministering to them.