“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long; this day the noise of battle, the next the victor's song!”
It was the month of April in 1945, 74 years ago, when Maui’s Fourth Marine Division returned from its final battle in the Pacific Theatre. This was none other than the battle of Iwo-Jima, so well known for this iconic photo. The Fourth Marine Division was in combat approximately 63 days, and in that brief time saw more violent combat than any other division in the Pacific Theatre. They fought courageously and spectacularly and were a key component in America’s victory in the Pacific. They also suffered heavy losses. At Iwo, 1,462 were KIA, 344 died from wounds after the fighting, and 7,292 had been wounded in that battle alone. These Marines were based out of a camp in Haiku off Kokomo Road in the area of the children’s park, named for the Fourth Marine Division. They were known in those days by locals as the “Maui Marines.”
They were welcomed home to Maui in April of 1945. They sailed into Kahului Harbor and saw masses upon masses of people lined up to welcome them. Hula dancers stood by, waiting to begin dancing. It is said that there was a silence as they came into the harbor that was shattered by thunderous applause and rejoicing by the people of Maui. It was said to be so loud that it could be heard 12 miles away at the camp on Kokomo road! What a sight it must’ve been to see these warriors returning from battle!
That same month in 1945, as these marines were finishing their tour of duty, a different division was launched out to battle. This would be an entirely different form of warfare from what the marines encountered in the Pacific.
On April 22, 1945, the First Baptist Church Of Kahului would be formally organized. A pastor was officially installed, members covenanted together, the gospel was proclaimed, people were baptized, praises were sung to the King of Kings and a church was sent on a mission. And in that moment, spiritual war raged in the heart of Kahului as the Kingdom of God pressed in deeper into spiritual darkness with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Later that year, in July, the name of the church would be changed to Kahului Baptist Church. Fast forward 74 years and you arrive to today. The day after Resurrection Sunday. A brief survey of our church history will demonstrate that just as those Marines fought spectacularly, so too the saints of God at Kahului Baptist Church have faithfully proclaimed the gospel to generations of people and MANY have come out of spiritual darkness into the light and life that are found only in the person of Jesus Christ. You can survey a brief history of our church on our “Church History” page of the website. It’s worth reading. You can find the link here.
The church has no doubt incurred losses in its history. Wounds have been inflicted by the enemy to many saints. We are reminded in Revelation 12:17 that the dragon (Satan) “became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” And yet, as we saw in our sermon yesterday, the end of history will decisively demonstrate that victory belongs to the Lamb and His followers. Ironically, this holy army doesn’t obtain victory by shedding the blood of its enemies. No, this victory is obtained in laying down our lives for our enemies and those who do not believe the gospel. In so doing, this army follows its King who also obtained victory through death for His enemies and subsequently rose again 3 days later.
Here’s to 74 years of life and faithfulness Kahului Baptist Church! Happy Birthday! And may the Lord bless this next season of ministry for us both individually and corporately. Soon enough, we too will be called home and sing the victors song.
“From vict'ry unto vict’ry, his army he shall lead, 'til ev'ry foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”
Standing with you,