Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Stories of Survival Emerge in Maui: ‘You Can See God in These Miracles’

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MAUI, Hawaii – Amid all the tragedy caused by the fires in Hawaii, miraculous stories of survival are surfacing. While visiting Maui, we’ve seen a firsthand look at the devastation, but also God’s divine protection.

A little more than a month ago, I was staying here in what used to be a beautiful oceanfront inn on Front Street here in Lahaina. I was staying in room #4 which was totally consumed by the fire.

Just next door to the inn where I stayed, David and Christiane Mello’s condominium building is still standing, although not livable. There’s no water, no electricity and there’s even talk it may be condemned. 

David said, “This is our paradise home. When we come here, we sit on the lanai, we do our devotions, and now we have nothing to come back to.”

Monday, the Mellos retrieved a few precious items from their home, including Christiane’s beloved paddleboard – one of her favorite hobbies – which was miraculously unharmed, although the cover did have a burn hole. Thankfully, the couple was on the other side of the island when the fires started.

“It’s heartbreaking to walk down here and see all our neighbors’ homes burnt down to the ground, but we got each other, we’re going to make it no matter what. God’s with us,” David said.

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Lahaina resident Harvest Kumulani Pastor Lucho Banto says he and his family are just grateful to be alive. 

“We had to go into the smoke and it was so dense, so thick, it was darker than a night without stars and moon, like super dark, like I’ve never seen,” he said. 

Pastor Lucho showed us how the fire came down the hill, then jumped over the highway into his neighborhood but miraculously spared his house.

“I didn’t know how bad it was at the moment. Two days later, listening to stories, I learned how close we were to death and how (the fact that we survived) was a miracle,” he said. 

Although his home looks untouched by the fire, it too is not livable. There’s no water, no electricity, and no way of knowing how long before Lahaina’s infrastructure will be restored.

“I’m staying at a bed and breakfast that someone is donating temporarily to us. We’re looking for a place,” he said.
 
Even though David and Christiane and Pastor Lucho are temporarily displaced, as believers in Christ they haven’t lost hope and are even helping others through this tough time.

Pastor Lucho said, “I think there’s so many miracles that have happened through this tragedy, and you can see God in these miracles, and out of ashes beauty’s coming out.”

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