Battlefield report: Maui offensive a success
by Glen Doss, Major –
“I felt the Spirit moving through us like an undefeatable force! People were crying, and I caught myself crying like I never thought I would do in front of others. We sang out all the more strongly because it was clear the people wanted to experience God even more. We gave it our all!”
Jami Luuloa’s eyes sparkle as she recalls the concert in which she performed at the Lahaina, Maui, corps. Her expression of intense wonder has me enthralled. Jami, 14, along with 21 other youth, participated in a blitz which steamrolled across the island of Maui, wowing the public even as it powerfully impacted the youth themselves.
“It was a great big rush of adrenaline from the day we left Kona, Hawaii, until the day we returned,” recalls her sister, Tina, 16.
The Maui offensive was the brainchild of Kona Corps assistants, Lieutenants Shane and Gina Luuloa, and their children. “Last winter we asked God to give us a new passion for our kids, for something that was different, exciting, and creative,” explains Gina. “Shane got the idea: ‘Wouldn’t it be good to take the group on a mission trip?’ Then we got to talking to our friends [Lieutenants Kevin and Vidella Nagasaki], who are in-charge at the Lahaina, Maui, outpost, and the idea was born.”
The 22 youth were divided into two teams, one led by Shane and Gina, which assaulted Lahaina and Keihe, the other led by Kona Corps YPSM, Sarah Smuda, which invaded Kahului.
“For me the most exciting thing was the thrill of seeing the kids pull it off,” observes Gina. “ All I did was give them a schedule—a day and time for each event—and they took it from there. As God led, the kids stepped up to the plate and did the job. And it was good.”
“It was great to see young people take leadership like that,” notes Captain Alicia Gill, Kahului Associate Corps Officer. “They preached, led praise and worship, read Scripture, took offering, led Sunday school—everything! It was all done very well, and I am proud of their efforts and their love for the Lord.”
Sarah was deeply moved by the change in the youth on her team over just four days. “It was so cool seeing them transformed. Teenagers have a lot of insecurities, but the cool thing is that when they forget their insecurities and begin feeling secure in the Lord, then God can really use them. When you are secure about who God is and who God made you to be, you can do things you never thought you could.”
Several of the team members said their most memorable experience was an afternoon spent with the homeless at the Lahaina outpost.
“No words can express how we felt, but here’s one—humbling!” recalls Rayna Luuloa, 17. “We served the homeless as if they were in a restaurant—we waited on them hand and foot!”
“We also ate and fellowshipped with them,” comments Jami. “To help hurting people you have to touch them and feel their pain, feel what they’re going through. Then you weep for them. And God works through you and helps you to pray for them. After the fellowship was all over, we cleaned the facility—we got our hands dirty, going down on our knees, scrubbing the floor and cleaning the toilets!”
“This experience really opened up the kids’ eyes,” notes Shane. “They thought we were just going there to feed the homeless; they never expected to do the dirty work like scrubbing the toilets, cleaning the showers—I told them that this is Kevin and Vidella’s ministry every day. I see a change in the kids now: they’re more giving.”
To the Luuloas’ surprise, behind the scenes Kevin and Vidella had wrangled an invitation for them to perform at the Dole Cannery Mall in Lahaina. “The kids were so excited,” says Gina, “so very pumped up.”
“We didn’t expect the public to accept us, since we were doing Christian music,” adds Jami, “but they did. They were singing along, clapping their hands. It was great fun!”
For Jami, the real fruit of the blitz was realized after the experience was over. For close on its heels came the divisional youth councils. “Two of the girls, my friends, who accompanied us to Maui, come from difficult circumstances and didn’t know the Lord.” She notes reverently: “At youth councils they came to the altar, and I prayed with them. They dedicated their lives to Christ. A seed planted in Maui bore fruit at youth councils.”