In the wake of a devastating wildfire that has raged across the island of Maui for the past two weeks, the toll on human lives and the landscape has been nothing short of catastrophic.
The Calvary Chapel, nestled in the southern part of the island, has become a beacon of hope in the midst of despair.
Pastor Kirk Milhoan, a pillar of strength for his community, has shared his grim outlook with Premier News regarding the ongoing disaster. With the winds fanning the flames mercilessly, the wildfire claimed 114 lives and left a trail of destruction in its path.
However, Pastor Kirk has voiced a much darker reality, stating that approximately a thousand individuals remain missing, their fates unknown in the aftermath of the catastrophe. “Our world changed dramatically,” he remarked somberly. “It is a small island, and when catastrophe happens like this, it has a large reach.”
Pastor Kirk’s concern for the potential increase in the death toll is not unfounded. The close-knit island community has been grappling with the loss of life on an unprecedented scale. He shared harrowing tales of people running for their lives, seeking refuge even in the turbulent waters surrounding the island. Stories emerged of individuals being blown out to sea by the ferocious winds, and some who sought shelter in the ocean but were still consumed by the flames. The survivors have endured unimaginable horrors, witnessing loved ones perish and experiencing a trauma that words can scarcely capture.
In the midst of this heartrending crisis, the Calvary Chapel has emerged as a place of solace and support. Pastor Kirk spoke about the layers of difficulty that the survivors now face – the emotional toll of losing family and friends, the economic blow to the tourism industry, and the material losses. But amidst the despair, he emphasized the strength of the community’s faith and the power of unity.
“We have the Word of God that says, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you,'” Pastor Kirk asserted. “We have a good shepherd in Jesus Christ.” He pointed to the spiritual healing that is much needed in this trying time. Reflecting on his own perspective, he shared, “God loves us so much. He wants us to return to Him. So, in different ways, that’s what I’m trying to walk the people through.”
One touching anecdote highlighted the resilience of the human spirit and the compassion that can emerge in times of crisis. Pastor Kirk recounted a family who had lost everything to the inferno – their possessions, their life savings, and their sense of security. Yet, amidst their own turmoil, they were embraced by the community. A fellow church member gifted them a car, an act of generosity that left them astounded.