Overcoming Disaster: 3 Short Stories of God’s Hand on Hawaii

By   •   May 24, 2018

In the destruction, chaplains share hope.

Within the past few weeks, Hawaii has experienced one natural disaster after another.

On the island of Kauai, nearly 50 inches of rain fell within 24 hours, causing major flooding and landslides. Within just a few weeks, Hawaii’s Big Island Kilauea volcano erupted, sending ash into the sky and lava flowing along the land.

Thousands have had to evacuate from their homes as a result of the disasters, and many have faced significant loss.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) has deployed alongside Samaritan’s Purse to offer emotional and spiritual care to those affected by the destruction.

Here are three short stories of how God has been working in the midst of the catastrophes:

A Wave of Assurance

They were supposed to find him.

The crisis-trained chaplains had been asked to follow up with a man, but all they were given was a name and general location. Nevertheless, the chaplains were hopeful of finding the stranger.

After praying, the chaplains went out, turning onto a muddy path where three men were talking.

A chaplain asked the group if they knew the man they were looking for—Aaron*. One of them said, “You are talking to him.”

Aaron told his story about the day the flood waters poured through his house. Pointing to a pile of logs in the river, he explained that the pressure from all the rain had broken loose a log jam upriver and water had gushed down very quickly.

“If my wife had not gotten up early for work and saw the water coming, you would not be talking to me now,” said Aaron, a 72-year-old surfer.

As the conversation turned to the subject of eternal life, Aaron professed belief in Jesus but said he was turned off by organized religion.

Discussion continued, and Aaron commented he always believed Billy Graham could be trusted. Before leaving, the chaplains prayed with the man, helping him be sure of his salvation.

One Big Family

While at a shelter one day, RRT chaplains met Natalie*, who had 19 relatives living in her home. They were displaced after the Kilauea volcano erupted.

Sensing her anguish, the chaplains asked her who she was drawing her strength from. She said, “From my family, I think.”

The chaplains then asked if she knew about Jesus, and she said she talks to Him every night. Recognizing that she was familiar with religion and not a relationship with Jesus, the chaplains explained the Gospel.

Natalie confessed Jesus as Lord. She now has a new family and a Father from whom she can truly draw her strength.

From Taro to Eternity

After ministering on the Big Island, two chaplains were waiting to depart at the Kona Airport. Little did they know, their ministry in the area was not yet finished.

Looking for a snack, the chaplains asked an airport store clerk about taro chips, and the clerk explained that taro was a root plant grown mostly on Kauai, something like a potato.

Seeing the logo on the chaplains’ blue shirts, the clerk commented, “Oh, Billy Graham.” With the window of opportunity, one chaplain asked her if she was a believer of Jesus.

Although the clerk had previously gotten very sick and seen something big and white “fluttering” over her, she’d never asked Jesus for forgiveness. However, she shared that a friend had been talking with her about Jesus. The chaplain said it sounded like the Lord was knocking at the door of her heart.

“I have done so many bad things,” the clerk responded.

The chaplain told her about God’s grace, and the simple Gospel moved her heart.

*Names have been changed for privacy.