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Oahu church offers city, state help with pandemic resources for those in need

Published: Aug. 30, 2020 at 4:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With places of worship allowed to have services during this second stay-at-home order, an Oahu church is offering to use its platform to help provide resources to those in need.

Ohana Baptist Church in Moanalua has a large Pacific Islander ministry, which is why Pastor Wayne Surface is offering to help the city and state since data shows that COVID-19 is spreading faster in that community than among everyone else.

“Our frustration is we’re not getting any cooperation or communication from the state or the city, whenever we ask them a question we get no answers back,” said Surface.

Surface is hosting church services both online and in-person, but he believes more could be done to relay information and prevent confusion among the Pacific islander community.

The pastor has learned that many of them are afraid to get tested.

“Because they have no answers,” said Surface. “If I have the COVID virus, where do I go? What about my work, I’m supporting my family, I’ve got no income.”

Other concerns that Youth Pastor Ensener Nerro has include a lack of interpreters, unclear communication regarding food supply along with uncertainty about where to quarantine.

“And sometimes the hard part is we don’t want to speak out of that because we don’t want to be the outcast in a sense,” said Nerro. “And so it’s just that emotional part of battling with that mindset of I don’t want to be the reason why my family is sick and sometimes it’s too late because you have nowhere else to go.”

Surface and his church are looking to fill those gaps.

“Give us a chance to help out instead of seeing us a problem,” said Surface. “We want to be part of the solution and we hope that they’ll give us that opportunity.”

A spokesperson for the city says the mayor met with religious leaders this past week, asking them to help control the spread of coronavirus and to try to refrain from holding in person services for at least two weeks. He added that outreach to the religious community will continue and be used to relay important messages to their congregations.

While the city has not discussed working with churches to address the needs of the Pacific Islander community, the spokesperson says officials are working with the state to identify at least two additional hotel properties to be used as possible isolation sites for those in crowded housing situations.

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