A ‘Rock’ of hope on Oahu

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THE ROCK, an outreach on the beach on the Leeward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii, features a weekly Sunday service and monthly potlucks.

Imagine a community that possesses one of the most beautiful and enviable stretches of white sand beaches in the world; an island paradise that most people can only dream of visiting.

Yet, its reputation has become tarnished over the years due to its poverty and rampant proliferation of drugs and crime—and so, the Waianae community on the Leeward Coast of O‘ahu struggles to rise from its flawed image.

Here, a fledgling Salvation Army outpost has begun to take root. Recently, it celebrated five years of reaching out to its residents—and most importantly—of changing lives.

“We’ve set up a life-saving station [right here on the beach] called the ‘Rock,’” says pastor Rob Noland. He refers to his Waianae Christian ohana (Hawaiian word for family) as “an active on-fire church that doesn’t just talk about it [changing lives] but does something about it.”

The ministry has grown over the years. The church, which started offering Bible studies in its early years, now has an average attendance of 35-45 people, made up of local folks who regularly attend Sunday services. Once a month, families bring food for a potluck lunch and enjoy fellowship after the Sunday service. The congregation is made up mostly of local residents of Hawaiian ancestry.

During the past couple of years, it has begun to engage at-risk youth in character building activities to draw them away from the lure of drugs and crime. Several car wash fundraisers were initiated by youngsters to raise money to feed the homeless people living on the beach. “There are hundreds of people without homes staying on the beach,” says 18-year-old Keali‘i. “ We want to make this as a regular car wash so that we could help those who don’t have anything.”

There are also plans to establish a tutoring program to help students with school problems, says Noland. And the teens have expressed interest in starting a music program as well.

The Waianae Outpost, like any pioneering ministry, struggles with the usual growing pains. Yet slowly, it is already making a difference in touching and changing lives as it does God’s work in this piece of paradise.

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