Students travel to Lahaina, Maui
A team of 12 students participating in Liberty University’s Serve Now disaster response team were sent to Lahaina, Maui to aid in disaster relief efforts following August’s wildfires. The team partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to provide temporary shelters for victims of the natural disaster and help local families find their belongings in the ashes of the fire.
LU Serve Now spent seven days at a tent camp on the outskirts of Lahaina and worked at Valley Isle Fellowship Church.
The wildfire has been called the most deadly wildfire in the United States due to the 3.4 square miles affected by the fire and the 97 lives it claimed. It is estimated that more than 2,200 houses and buildings were destroyed, leaving many people homeless and without jobs.
According to Jared Shotton, one of the two leaders of the trip, the goal of the trip was to share the love of Christ and the hope and peace that come with knowing God.
“The goal of the trip was for LU Serve Now to send a team of students and leaders to minister to and serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and communities affected by the Maui wildfire, working alongside Samaritan’s Purse,” Shotton said.
The team served through manual labor, offering their help to those who had lost everything in the fires. An estimated 8,000 people were displaced from their homes, creating a massive housing crisis. To help with this problem, LU Serve Now partnered with Hui Homes to construct temporary tiny homes from scratch.
Although students did not have the chance to meet the individuals whose homes they were building, they recognized the impact that the homes would have on the lives of their future residents. At other sites, the students helped search for keepsakes and important possessions in the ashes and ruins of the fire.
“The beautiful (thing) about LU Serve Now and Samaritan’s Purse is not only the hope offered through meeting physical and emotional needs, but the hope offered through the Gospel,” Shotton said.
Another trip leader, Jasmine McKeever, presented a Bible filled with encouraging notes to a family that had lost its home in the fire.
“It was such an impactful moment, as our team was able to witness firsthand how serving with compassion and joy can leave an impact and point those we are serving to Christ,” Shotton said. “When we meet physical needs, we allow the Lord to use us as vessels so that those we are serving see Jesus in us.”
Students interested in similar service opportunities can apply to the LU Serve Now program when applications open in the upcoming spring semester. Another service option is to volunteer directly to Samaritan’s Purse anytime. There are currently six volunteer locations across the United States where students can serve in disaster relief efforts such as cleanups or rebuilds.
More information can be found on LU Serve’s website at www.liberty.edu/osd/lu-serve.
Jarnigan is the asst. news editor for the Liberty Champion