The Samaritan’s Purse DC-8 cargo jet airlifted a relief team and 17 tons of supplies from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Maui, Hawaii, on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Among many other items onboard were solar lights and hygiene kits to provide immediate relief to survivors of the deadly wildfires. The plane also carried tools and equipment that will help our teams sift through ashes to recover valuables and treasured mementos for devastated homeowners.
Samaritan’s Purse Chief Operating Officer Edward Graham was on the flight to Hawaii. Monday night, he spoke on TBN’s Centerpoint program, “Sifting is extremely important. We may think it’s something simple, but it helps bring healing and closure like no other way for a homeowner.”
After arriving in Maui on Tuesday, Graham spoke to our staff and volunteers, reminding them to be sensitive in the midst of terrible suffering. “We know this is a horrible situation, so much loss and destruction,” he said of the deadly fires. He then went on to encourage them: “God gives us these resources, not to stay on a shelf somewhere, but He wants us to go out and love our neighbor. We get our name from the story of the Good Samaritan. We meet the immediate needs—we clothe, we give water, we give food, we give transportation.” All of our work provides us opportunities to share the hope that is in us, he said, the Good News that Jesus has paid our debt to bring us to God.
Samaritan’s Purse disaster response specialists have been on Maui since last Thursday, conducting assessments and working closely with local authorities to determine when it is safe to move into the affected areas. In addition, they are collaborating with local pastors to determine how their congregations can help be the hands and feet of Jesus in the wake of this devastation.
Tragically, over 110 lives have been lost and many more are still missing from wildfires that sprang up on Maui on Aug. 8. Hurricane force winds were in part responsible for stirring a contained blaze into the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century. Sadly, the blaze destroyed much of the west side of the island, along with countless homes and businesses. Search and rescue efforts continue.
“What has happened in Hawaii is nothing short of devastating,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “As the death toll has risen, my heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones and for the families who must now begin the long road to recovery. Please join me in praying for them and for our Samaritan’s Purse teams who are responding in Jesus’ Name.”
Samaritan’s Purse is grateful for a strong network of church partners in Hawaii, built in part by our 2018 response to catastrophic flooding on Kauai.
U.S.-based Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is also on the ground ministering to the spiritual needs of people who have suddenly found themselves in displacement centers due to the fires. These chaplains are also assisting local law enforcement offices with a variety of duties, including the difficult task of notifying family members when there has been a death. So far, there have been two reported salvations.
Please pray for the suffering people of Maui and for Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Rapid Response teams as they extend the comfort and hope offered in Jesus Christ.
Please also join us in fervently praying for the residents of Hay River and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, as they evacuate in the face of fast-moving fires. Our Canadian Disaster Relief team is closely monitoring the situation. Pray for God’s protection and the calming of these flames.
Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 16 and updated Aug. 18.