As the Hawaii wildfire death toll has climbed to more than 100 lives, Hawaii Baptist Disaster Relief leaders are urging Southern Baptists to be patient, prayerful and prepare for the long haul in responding to the devastation.
John and Gay Williams, Disaster Relief co-directors with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC), shared a video update on relief efforts and how Southern Baptists can best respond. For those who may be considering efforts to “self-deploy” and jump on a plane to Maui without an invitation from those already on the ground, they urge them to “Stop! Don’t.”
“People who come to Maui [to help] should be invited,” Gay Williams noted in the Aug. 14 video as she spoke with Craig Webb, assistant executive director of the HPBC. “They should have a contact when they land here, who has housing and food for them. If you don’t have that, please don’t come.”
The Williams acknowledged there are many trained people who could help, but they urged them to wait until there are more details and opportunities available from those already involved in the ongoing relief efforts.
“If you are a trained Disaster Relief worker, we will be calling you soon,” Gay said. “If you are not trained and want to be, we will be having those trainings soon.”
Right now, John Williams noted, area churches are responding, in addition to a team of Disaster Relief volunteers, doing some initial work to help first responders as needed. Hawaii Baptist leaders also are in contact with Send Relief and other state conventions preparing plans for the days and weeks ahead.
“There is still a lot of first responder activity, so we want to make sure we don’t get in the way or take away vital resources that the people of Maui need or the first responders,” he said. “But we have a small team on the ground and we’re serving, helping those who are helping others, just ministering to them.”
He noted, “We have a very good relationship with the Mayor’s office [in Maui]. They’re calling and asking us to come alongside and help, so we’re going to be looking at some new opportunities.”
Those who are wanting to send clothes or other supplies, they should wait until there are specific requests and instructions on where to send them.
For now, the number one resource people can offer right now is prayer, the Williams said. “That’s to pray — it’s our most valuable resource” Gay said.
Other ways to help
For more information, click here. Gifts through the HPBC Disaster Relief can be designated “Hawaii Fires.” Or, check with your church, association or state Baptist convention to find out how they are contributing to ongoing relief efforts in Hawaii, your state and beyond. To contact your state convention for more information, click here. Or, for more information about Send Relief, click here.