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AG Church Lost in Maui Wildfires

The King's Cathedral extension in Lahaina on the island of Maui was destroyed in a devastating wildfire that left the city in rubble.

King’s Cathedral Lahaina extension, a church with a weekly attendance of 200 to 300, was destroyed as fire engulfed the community on Tuesday and left little but rubble behind. King’s Cathedral lead pastor, James Marocco, says that the extension, led by campus pastor Kawi Keahi, was not the only structure lost as many of those who attend the extension or main campus church had homes and/or businesses in Lahaina destroyed by the blaze.

Current reports are that at least 55 people have perished in the fire, but Marocco says the number of lives lost is impossible to determine at this point as communication into the area is down and people are scattered throughout the island, seeking shelter.

“The first night we had over 200 people we fed and made sleeping arrangements for,” says Marocco, who explains that the main campus is about 16 miles directly east of Lahaina in Kahului. “Our parking lot was also full of cars with people sleeping in them. Many of them were tourists who had come to the island but had nowhere to go. Then on Thursday night, we were inundated as community leaders and hotels asked us to take in hundreds more. We're not sure what we're going to do on Sunday as all of our classrooms and youth areas are filled with people -- we may have to set up a tent on the football field."

Speculated that fires were sparked by power lines knocked down by high winds from Hurricane Dora that passed near the islands, the Lahaina fire was reportedly 80% contained as of Thursday. However, Marocco says that other fires are still burning, thousands have been displaced, and recovery will be years in the making as regulations and restrictions make building a very difficult process.

“We are working with community leaders to set up temporary housing in our lot across the street from the church (main campus),” Marocco says. “We already have the largest homeless/social service ministry on the island, the Family Life Center, and we’re going to try to help as many people as possible, but we haven’t figured out what the need is yet.”

Marocco says the church has set up a relief fund on the King’s Cathedral website. He believes people will respond as the church has a special connection with the inhabitants of Maui — one out of two people on the island of 150,000 have been to an event at the church.

“Even though some may not be attending on a regular basis, they have been touched by the church,” he says. “In times of need, they’ll respond, and we’ll also be there to help them.”

Convoy of Hope and other organizations have already connected with Marocco to see how they can be of assistance.

According to a Convoy of Hope release, Convoy team members and resources are already en route to help provide relief.

“We’re thankful we’re here — we want to be a blessing,” says Marocco, who preached to a packed house on Wednesday evening. “But the greatest need is for people to turn to the Lord. The Lord gave me a verse, Psalm 46:1 — God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of need.

“He’s going to be to us what we need,” Marocco continues. “I believe, through all of this, there is going to be revival and a mighty move of the Spirit, but for right now, we need prayer!”

PHOTO CREDIT: US Civil Air Patrol, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.