Maui Fires Burn Site Where Hawaiian Queen First Brought Christianity to the Island

Once the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, Lahaina was home to Maui’s first church and seminary.

In the aftermath of the worst disaster in memory on their island—the deadliest fire in US history—Maui’s Christians gathered on Sunday morning to offer prayers, continue to coordinate relief efforts, and mourn the loss around them.

At Grace Bible Church Maui, pastor Jonavan Asato likened the destruction to the death of a loved one. “When you look at that town and the memories that you’ve had there, it’s not just a home,” he said with tears in his eyes. “It’s a part of our culture. It’s a part of our island.”

Days before, his church had sent supplies by boat to Lahaina—the former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, a landmark in 200 years of missionary history in Maui, and the site that bore the brunt of the brush fires that devastated the west side of the island.

Having witnessed the scorched cars, the embers of Front Street, and smoke dissipating from the more than 2,000 buildings burned, Asato asked his congregation to stand up and face in the direction of Lahaina as he repeated, “We speak life and light to you in Jesus’ name.”

In Lahaina, local Christians grapple with the widespread damage. While the leaders of Lahaina Baptist Church were “amazed” to learn that their church was still standing—despite everything around it “literally in ashes”—all but two of their church families lost their homes.

“I would estimate that over half the residents of our communities lost their homes and possessions. The big question is: Where will those people live? It will take years to rebuild,” pastor Barry Campbell wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “Another big issue is jobs. If the hotels and resorts are closed …

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