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Hawaii students minister to locals with free car wash, free food

HONOLULU, Hawaii (BP)–Fourteen-year-old Sam Bui never dreamed that a day of painting faces and doing balloon art in a Hawaii shopping center could change people’s lives for eternity.

But that’s exactly what happened when the Hawaii Baptist Academy freshman led two people to Christ in Waianae Mall on Oahu’s Leeward Coast.

“I really saw God work in them as I prayed with them and shared about God,” Bui said. “It was actually God leading those people to Him. He just used me to speak to them.”

Bui said the two new converts told him that “the Holy Spirit filled an empty spot.”

“It is my hope that they in turn are able to touch lives,” he said.

Bui was at the shopping center with part of Hawaii Baptist Academy’s Servant Group, a student group of more than 100 committed Christians from the Honolulu school. The students were at the annual Servant Group Camp held Aug. 21-23 at Puu Kahea Baptist Conference Center.

For the past two years, the students have spent much of the camp doing ministries in communities along Oahu’s western coastline. In addition to the ministry at the shopping center, students helped repair a widow’s home, distributed food to the many homeless people who live on the beach, prayer walked at a nearby high school and washed cars for free. Two other people prayed to receive Christ as a result of the ministries.

“Last year we thought that things couldn’t get any better, but we underestimated God’s plan,” said Rob Lockridge, the school’s Christian ministries director. “Servant Group is moving to a very involved form of Christianity. We are learning that the more active we are in our faith, the more our Lord reveals Himself to us.”

Senior Isaac Pan said the car wash took a lot of neighborhood people by surprise.

“They didn’t realize why we were doing it for free,” Pan said. “They were curious as to why people, especially us kids, wanted to do this for them. It was a great way to minister to them about God.”

A member of Waianae Baptist Church saw her house transformed by students. Camp counselor David Hood, a carpenter and former employee of the school, helped with the project.

“Just a few pieces of screen, wood and a smile can really brighten someone’s life,” senior Chris Hodson said.

Led by Hood, students helped clean the house, trim bushes in the front yard, move furniture, paint, replace broken window screens and repair kitchen cabinets.

Another group of students distributed more than 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to homeless people who live on the beach.

“God really revealed Himself to me through the homeless people that I saw on the beach,” said senior Courtney Tokuda. “I saw how little they had, yet they still survived and they lived so simply.”

The camp was more than just a ministry to the community. It was also a ministry to the students who were encouraged by the camp’s theme to stay “On the Right Path.”

“I know that I can’t do it by myself, and I know that it will be a struggle,” said senior Julia Wong, “but I will strive to find pleasure in God and not be satisfied by the empty things of the world.”

“God took away the outside world, the materialistic, unimportant world so that I could just focus on him.”

Servant Group members hope that what they learned at camp will help them be better ministers back on campus. Several students interviewed noted a renewed commitment to a daily walk with God and a desire to help other students.

“I’m able to be more open spiritually with my classmates and willingly share what I know,” sophomore Candace Yonashiro said. “I’m not as afraid to talk about God.”

Said senior Lesa Bowman, “My hope for HBA, for everyone else in Servant Group, the other believers, is that they don’t lose their fire for Him — that what they say isn’t just ‘words’ but has meaning. That’s my hope for myself, too.”

Less than a month after camp, it appears that the effects are spreading on campus. New Bible studies have begun, the girls’ junior varsity volleyball team formed accountability groups and seven students have accepted Christ in the past two weeks.

“I see this school, this special school, as a place of freedom,” Lockridge said, “a place where there is no fear of being teased or put down for being a Christian and wanting to learn more about God.”

“HBA is a stepping stone for these students to do amazing things in the name of our Lord.”

Hawaii Baptist Academy is a school of just over 1,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade. It was started in 1949 by Southern Baptist missionaries and with the financial support of the WMU of Virginia. Today, the school is associated with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention. It is considered one of the top academic schools in Hawaii and known for its commitment to its Christian mission.
— Jennifer Hee contributed to this story.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: TLC WITH PBJ and FACING THE TRUTH.

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  • Matt Sanders