The cars and trucks rolled in, one by one, in the darkness Thursday morning, outside Hanamaulu Beach Park.
Men, and a few woman, parked, got out, and walked to the locked gates. As the crowd of 15 or so slowly mingled together, they shook hands, shared smiles and hugs, and exchanges greetings.
A minute later, the conversations fell quiet as the gates were opened at 6 a.m.
“Let’s all enter and bless the park,” said Pastor Roy “Rocky” Sasaki.
“Bless this place,” added Pastor Tom Iannucci.
Soon, the pastors of several of Kauai’s eastside churches stood and sat under the pavilion, and for the next hour, they prayed. They sang. They read Scripture. They raised their hands.
The pastors came from different churches with the same goal: They called for God’s healing of Hanamaulu Beach Park, recently closed to the public overnight because of growing concerns of crime, drugs and homelessness there.
They asked for God’s blessing on the park, to drive out evil spirits and return the light to this beautiful land that fronts the ocean. They asked for healing and forgiveness of sins. They called for God to move in a “mighty” way.
The roar of passenger jets leaving and arriving, drowning out the prayers at time, did not dissuade them.
“We’re wanting God to see this place transformed,” said Pastor Bruce Baumgartner, holding a guitar. “We’re calling on your name this morning to unite our hearts.”
As if an answer to prayer, right then, the darkness gave way to light as the sun rose over the ocean.
“As the sun rises up and shines on this beach park, shines on us, that you would rise up, Father, shine on this island,” Iannucci said.
He prayed for the end of crime and homelessness, and asked that Hanamaulu be a beacon of light again, a place of healing and restoration.
“We pray, we reclaim this place, in the name of Jesus,” he said.
The group of pastors meets each Thursday morning. They arrived at Hanamaulu to join in a spiritual battle taking place on Kauai.
“We ask Lord, that you forgive this land, forgive every crime, every sin that’s committed,” said Pastor Larry Matsuwaki of Faith Christian Fellowship. “Lord, cleanse this land, cleanse this building, cleanse the beach, every part of it.”
Doug Kozub, pastor of New Hope Church, asked God to bless the park, and protect his people on Kauai
“If we ask these things according to your will, we’re going to get them,” he said.
Ryan Smith, pastor of Lihue Missionary Church, prayed for God’s light.
“There’s lots of dark stuff going on. God, we just pray you would move in a mighty way right now in Lihue,” he said.
Part of the problem, though, is people.
“There’s issues everywhere, Lord God, because there’s people everywhere,” said Pastor Davone Florence of New Beginnings Christian Center.
Pastor Alice Morikiwas demanded, in Jesus name, that evil spirits “must go.”
“Everything that’s not light down here, has to go,” she said, hands clasped together.
In a passionate plead, Pastor Nida Agpaoa with Aloha Church asked for God to heal the land, the island, the state, the nation. She said pastors would lead the fight.
“We come against you Satan, and the forces of hell, right now,” she said, arms raised. “Hallelujah.”
Later, as pastors headed off, they believed their efforts would lead to change.
“Scripture says if we come together and pray, we can expect great things to happen,” Kozub said.
Sasaki agreed prayer is powerful. When pastors gather and pray, God responds.
“I believe when we can gather for prayer and in unity, he’s going to bless this island. And we want to see this island blessed,” he said.