Lahaina, Hawaii–The state of Hawaii is being devastated by wildfires driven by high winds which continue to feed five separate fires, particularly on the island of Maui. As of Thursday morning, August 10, reports revealed at least 36 deaths and over 270 structures lost or damaged in and around the historic town of Lahaina.
The Church of God has had a presence in Hawaii since it became a U.S. state in 1959. Today there are 21 churches on five islands, including four on Maui in Lahaina and Wailuku. The Lahaina International Christian Fellowship Church of God, pastored by Benny Mariano, has been completely destroyed. According to Administrative Bishop Rob Taylor there are about 100 people from that church who have been affected as well as many more that are friends and relatives of the church.
Bishop Taylor and Church of God pastors on Maui have immediately moved to meet the needs of those impacted by the wildfires with the appointment of a Maui Disaster Relief Team.
“This team will assist with setting up a distribution location, getting essential supplies, and giving them out to people in need,” Taylor stated. “With shipping being expensive and taking weeks to get to us, our main need is money to purchase items to assist these families.” Taylor went on to say that he has not been able to physically get into Lahaina due to evacuations but has received photos and videos from people who did not evacuate and now can’t leave.
Hawaii First Lady Candie Taylor posted on Facebook: “Pray for Maui. As you pray for our pastor, youth pastor and their families, also remember these: Pray for first responders. Many are coming from surrounding islands, but it will be hours, possibly days of work. The quickest any mainland help can get here is 6 hours. Pray for community leaders. Pray for the visitors who are stuck on Maui and have no place to stay because hotels are evacuated. Likewise, there are people stuck on other islands and are unable to get to Maui, [and] do not know what to do.
Pray for our District overseer, pastor Jerry [Recamara]. He’s connecting with our pastors on the island. He’s a trooper.”
Secretary General Gary Lewis, who serves as Covenant Ministry Team Leader for Hawaii said, “The Church of God is standing and praying with the wonderful people of Hawaii during this tragic time.”
Churches and individuals can partner to assist in the devastation by sending donations through Church of God World Missions Project #765-0036.
Individual Ministries With High Donor Confidence Scores
We have compiled a list of ministries that have deep expertise in relief and development efforts, and who have high ratings from MinistryWatch. All of the ministries on this list have a “Give With Confidence” score from MinistryWatch.
Operation Blessing has our top Financial Efficiency Rating (5 Stars) and an A Transparency Grade. You can give to this ministry with confidence that the dollars will go where they are supposed to go.
Convoy of Hope has a good Financial Efficiency Rating (4 Stars out of 5) and an A Transparency Grade. However, it has a Donor Confidence Score of 64, “Give With Caution.” Before giving, make sure you know that the ministry has ongoing efforts in Hawaii to ensure that the money is going where it is supposed to go.
World Vision is working in Hawaii in a variety of ways. (Read more here.) World Vision has a Transparency Grade of A, 4 out of 5 Stars for Financial Efficiency, and a Donor Confidence Score of 78, or “Give With Confidence.”
MAP International is sending what it calls “Disaster Health Kits” to Hawaii. They contain first aid kits, soap, and other essential health items. MAP International has earned a 5-Star Financial Efficiency Rating from MinistryWatch, our highest rating. It also has an “A” Transparency Grade and a “Give With Confidence” Donor Confidence Score.
Ministries We Wish We Could Recommend But Don’t
Other ministries have been quick to respond, but because of a lack of transparency we are not enthusiastic about recommending them. The include:
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA’s Rapid Response Team does good work, but because BGEA doesn’t release its Form 990s to the public, we give it a Transparency Grade of C. It also has a low Financial Efficiency Rating: 2 Stars out of 5. It’s overall Donor Confidence Score is 33, which means we recommend to donors they should “Withhold Giving.”
Withhold Giving From These Organizations
Mercury One has been aggressive in its fundraising efforts to evangelicals, but it is not a Christian organization and its association with other questionable organizations (Operation Underground Railroad and The Nazarene Fund) cause us to recommend that Christians withhold giving from this organization.