When giving becomes receiving

Reports from Maui continue to be grim. The wildfires in Lahaina are the deadliest this country has seen in more than a century. Hawai’i’s particular geographic situation (volcanic islands 3,000 miles from the mainland) complicated evacuation (where do you flee on an island?) and continues to affect both aid delivery and recovery efforts. 

As millions of tourists know, the islands of Hawai’i are beautiful beyond description, beauty which has attracted many to come to live on the islands. High demand added to long supply chains mean Hawai’I has the highest cost of living in the country. Because it takes about two weeks for supplies to reach the islands, residents are told to always have two weeks of reserves. Given the rapidity of the fire spread, most of those reserves went up in flames. 

Despite its beauty, Hawai’i has one of the highest poverty rates in our country. This is particularly true for native Hawai’ians.  Many of those most affected by the fires are native Hawai’ians, who even before they can bury their dead are facing unrelenting pressure from investors.

Years ago, four Episcopal churches on Maui (Good Shepherd, Holy Innocents, St. John’s, and Trinity By-the-Sea) created a community outreach program called “A Cup of Cold Water” (ACCW) to distribute essential food, hygiene, and clothing items throughout the island. Over the years, the program has grown to include churches from other denominations as well as various organizations and volunteers from around the wider community. ACCW recognizes that the ministry serves both those who are in material need and those who volunteer, feeding them spiritually.

The buildings of Holy Innocents were lost in the fires and now members of that congregation are being served by the organization they helped to create. While the organization always recognized the mutuality and gifts both to those served and those being served, I wonder if the volunteers ever considered that they would be on the other side, in need of food and clothing? 

God is always calling us into generosity, with the promise that in God’s economy of grace we will be among the beneficiaries. 

We do not know what the future holds, or how our gifts of time, talent, and treasure will bless us. We do know that God keeps God’s promises, and we will be blessed. The people of Holy Innocents, Lahaina, knew they were offering something vital and important. Now they are discovering it anew. 

You are invited to contribute to recovery efforts in Hawai’i through All Saints’. At the direction of the Diocese of Hawai’i, funds are being sent to “A Cup Of Cold Water.” Please mark your donations “Hawaii” or contribute online by selecting “Hawaii” as a donation choice. The “First Sunday Offering” in September (September 3, 2023) will be directed to relief and recovery in Lahaina through “A Cup of Cold Water.”