Drs. Kirk and Kimberley Milhoan. Photo courtesy Kirk Milhoan.[/caption]“We may never be able to recover the bodies because it’s like one large crematorium,” says Dr. Kirk Milhoan about the August fires in Lahaina, Maui. “There were 80- to 100-mph winds, and the flames came in so fast. We don’t have natural gas lines, so restaurants use propane tanks for their gas stoves and ovens. And so those started blowing up…. And then it started fire tornadoes that were going down the streets.”Dr. Kirk and his wife Dr. Kimberley Milhoan have a tri-fold ministry south of Lahaina, Maui. Dr. Kirk pastors Calvary Chapel South Maui, out of which they operate a food pantry and For Heart and Souls Free Medical Clinic. They also travel internationally to perform pediatric cardiac surgeries. It’s not difficult to see they have big hearts and full plates, especially in the wake of the fires.
“The Island Was Just Getting Back to a Recovery State”
Now, following the fires, members of the Maui community are coming to the food pantry, asking for a doctor, and needing a dose of love just as much as they did during the COVID-19 lockdowns. “We’re coming off of a time when there was unprecedented discouragement,” Dr. Kirk said, referring to the COVID-19 shutdowns. “The island was just getting back to a recovery state, and now this.”
The island is facing what Dr. Kirk refers to as a double tragedy, as the main source of income—tourism—has evaporated. “We have a new population of the poorly insured [and] underinsured workforce that is no longer getting paid. Now I expect that our free medical clinic will be even more important to take care of, not necessarily people who have burn injuries, but people who have been displaced by the fires and people who have been impacted—the working poor, the working middle class, the people who are… living day-to-day, week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck.”That income has, quite literally, gone up in smoke, as it did for one family with a four-year-old daughter who was working hard to save for a house. When the fires came, their daughter was away in a safe place, but the husband and wife had to seek safety in the water, where they sheltered for three hours. They helped forty people get to shore, and they themselves were safe, but their house and $40,000 of cash savings were lost in minutes. They came to the church, overwhelmed and completely at a loss for how to rebuild their lives and business, not only then but when their daughter came home.Dr. Kirk listened to their story and offered donations from the church to provide daycare for this family while they rebuilt. Then, as the couple was walking out, a 78-year-old church member, who had never met them before, approached. “I’ve heard your story,” he told them. “I’m giving you my car.”“He wasn’t a rich person,” Dr. Kirk told us. “He just said, ‘I’m going down to the DMV and I’ll sign over the title.’ And they were shocked.”The man who had lost his home turned then and asked what most people do in the face of such unprecedented kindness: “Where do you see love like this?” And Dr. Kirk’s answer is always, “In the presence of Christ.”
Living out a Model of Love
With the amount of need now on Maui, it’s tempting to become overwhelmed. But the Milhoans and their ministries are convicted to live out a ministry model that focuses on the person in front of them.“We make sure that we minister like Jesus ministered, and he was always one person at a time,” Dr. Kirk said. “So, what we’re trying to do is have that focus… ‘Who does Jesus have before us now? And how can we love them to the best of our abilities with the resources that God has given us?’ And let Him be glorified. That’s our prayer.”Dr. Kirk tells the story of an “auntie” (a term of respect in the Hawaiian and Filipino culture for an older woman) who had been in her house alone during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Alone and needing food, she eventually came to the food pantry, where one of the volunteers could tell she needed physical contact as much as sustenance. She asked her if she wanted a hug. Immediately, the woman began to cry. “I’d love a hug,” she said. The auntie held onto that hug for ten minutes. No one had touched her in weeks.“God calls us to go to places that aren’t necessarily safe…[with] people who aren’t necessarily safe. And those simple acts of love have great impact.”
Going to unsafe places is what much of the Milhoan’s work centers around.With a mission to serve the least of these, For Hearts and Souls has served children in some very hard-to-reach places. Dr. Kirk is a pediatric cardiologist and a former Air Force flight surgeon, and Dr. Kimberley is a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist. Together they assemble teams that perform surgeries on children in places like Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Africa, and the Middle East.“What’s interesting,” Dr. Kirk said, “is even as an unapologetically Christian organization, we’ve been invited into Fallujah, Iraq…Karbala, Iraq…Kurdish, Iraq. …I’ve been invited into Sudan…and Yemen…because I’m willing to take care of children. And so it has opened up opportunities for me to bring in the presence of the Holy Spirit into these places.“The question,” he continued, “almost always comes up: ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘Why would you do this for free?’ And so then I can share my faith.”
A Special Partnership
The Milhouns and their ministries are a unique Blessings International partner in that their reach extends internationally and domestically. And thanks to donors of the Medicines for Nations general fund, we are able to diversify gifts in times of need so people like the Milhouns can receive discounts for special circumstances.“What Blessings does for me is it allows me to buy wonderful medicine at a very affordable price for me, so I can dispense them for free,” Dr. Kirk said. “It is a very important piece of our ministry here.”When you support Blessings International, you are helping us equip clinics like For Hearts and Souls Free Medical Clinic in Maui…and all over the world. When you give on a “where needed most” basis, your donation is applied to the Medicines for Nations fund, which helps domestically and internationally.