Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) is ready to serve when disaster strikes, and domestic disasters are no exception.
Right now, in Hawaii, residents of the Big Island face lava flows from volcanic activity that began on May 4, causing thousands of people to flee their homes. Meanwhile, on the island of Kauai, April rainfall caused massive flooding—with over 32 inches that fell in two days—that continues to affect north shore residents and impact island tourism. To date, Hawaii’s economy has lost an estimated $20 million in both food and tourism industries.
“There is a profound sense of loss,” Jason Reynolds, Foursquare Disaster Relief‘s U.S. director, reports of the crisis on Kauai. “Many of these homes and lands have been in families for generations. Families are living in tents along beaches to be near these properties that they have such a historic connection to.”
But amid these natural disasters, Hawaii’s Foursquare churches are serving their communities and having a great impact. Local Foursquare pastors on the Big Island, such as Sheldon Lacsina of New Hope Hilo Hawaii (Hilo Foursquare Church) and Morris Niimi of New Hope Christian Fellowship Puna (Puna Foursquare Church); as well as pastors on Kauai, such as John Cabello of New Hope Lihue Christian Fellowship (Lihue Foursquare Church) and Matt Higa of New Hope Kauai (Kapaa Foursquare Church)—along with volunteers from local Foursquare churches—have been reaching out to meet people in crisis.
When lava flows caused evacuations, New Hope Hilo Hawaii opened their church facility to become a temporary location for a local school affected by the disaster, providing safety and a sense of normalcy for kids. Meanwhile, church volunteers have been feeding victims and relief agencies’ responders, providing nearly 1,000 meals every week since May 17.
When floodwaters flowed through Kauai’s rural farm pasturelands and fields, spreading pesticides and manure beyond the properties, health concerns arose about infections and toxins. As part of their response, Foursquare pastors worked with FDR to provide food, personal care items, refrigerators and washing machines to give families who lost their homes access to toxin-free food and sanitary clothes.
Throughout these responses, FDR has partnered with Hawaii’s Foursquare churches and leaders by providing assistance and even training, so they can continue to make a difference. A lot has been accomplished, but there is still much to be done.
“We are concerned about long-term trauma for victims,” Jason says. “Pray for wisdom as we discuss a long-term strategy for emotional and spiritual care with local churches and ministries to help residents with grief and loss.”
Two FDR trainers, Elbert and Jan Tomai, have already been sent to provide crisis ministry training to 16 volunteers from New Hope Hilo Hawaii. While there, they also came alongside church staff and volunteers to provide support for them as they served. FDR is assessing the possibility of deploying additional responders trained in emotional/spiritual care to help in the coming months.
The work of Foursquare local churches has been critical in the immediate response time of these disasters. However, the work is not yet complete.
- Pray for the victims who continue to suffer losses in the wake of these disasters.
- Pray for local Foursquare churches who are selflessly serving and sacrificing.
- Pray for our leaders on the ground, for wisdom and for endurance to remain present in the face of suffering.
As Foursquare responds in Hawaii, the needs are still immediate and great. Your prayers and financial support are important today. Your giving enables the ongoing work of local churches and FDR to continue long after other immediate response teams go home. Give to FDR for U.S. Relief at 4sq.ca/donatefdr. Thank you for your generosity!