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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul Harris


The news has shown us through words and videos of the destruction caused by the recent wildfire in Lahaina, Maui. I am praying for the United Methodist Church there and her pastor and family. I invite you to pray as well for their community and a resilient spirit of rebuilding. See Lahaina UMC website here.

Natural disasters such as this are unimaginable, until they happen. This fire and it’s destruction remind me of the 2011 Bastrop County Complex fires. Some of you may remember speaking with friends in the area or watching the evening news for updates. Laura and I served a church in that area during those fires. What I remember most is the recovery effort aided by so many persons wanting to help.

The biggest and best gift we received was gift cards that could be used to distribute immediately to area residents and to purchase food as the church cooked outdoor meals for firefighters and displaced residents. The church parking lot became a staging area for first responders who took short respite breaks for water and food and conversation.

A group of cooks from the church community worked around the clock preparing food. Another group prepped showers and supplies in one of the church buildings. Another group gathered cots and blankets and had them ready for naps if any responder so needed. Conversation partners moved around the church campus speaking and listening to displaced residents and first responders. I can imagine faces and conversations even today as the memories come back.

The people of Lahaina and the UMC congregation need prayers from all of us. And some of you may choose to send financial support either directly to that community or through UMCOR and it’s disaster response and recovery fund. Their recovery effort will be long and tiresome. Along the way, it might be helpful to write notes of encouragement and send them to the pastor of Lahaina UMC. I remember what it felt like to receive such notes from people unknown to me in person but deeply connected in the spirit of love, compassion, and hope.

We live in a culture that wants to polarize us into camps of divergent thought and action. I pray for a renewal in what some call a Culture of Connection. I pray that we practice compassion with each other and with the people of Lahaina, Maui.

Connected in Christ,

Pastor Paul

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Photo from Big Island Now

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