|By: Dr. John G. Weldon; ©2012|
|The Hawaiian Islands are unique in a lot of ways, in fact, it could be argued that Hawaii may be the most unique place on Earth. But this Archipelago is also relevant to the field of Christian apologetics: historically, culturally, scientifically and in other ways.|
A Significant Apologetic from a Small Archipelago – Part 1
HAWAII – “The Most Beautiful Islands in the World”
If you’ve ever been to the islands, this article should bring back fond and pleasurable memories; if you’ve never been, it should move Hawaii to #1 on your vacation list.
The Hawaiian Islands are unique in a lot of ways, in fact, it could be argued that Hawaii may be the most unique place on Earth. But this Archipelago is also relevant to the field of Christian apologetics: historically, culturally, scientifically and in other ways.
Part One of this article covers a general introduction to the uniqueness of the islands –which begs the question could all this uniqueness happen merely through chance (a non-entity) and absolute nothingness, the original starting points for everything, as modern materialistic science argues? Not a chance. They could only happen by God creating them in such a manner. A future Part Two will discuss a variety of natural miracles unique to Hawaii that cannot be explained rationally or naturalistically. Again, but more powerfully this time, God alone can account for them. Of course Hawaii isn’t unique here, but what it reveals is still pretty astonishing.
The Bible is clear that both the heavens and the earth – everything God has created – declare the glory of God and inform everyone who has ever lived certain things about him. For example, according to Psalm 19 1-4, “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” and they continually pour forth knowledge about God to every person on the earth. (For example, the Hubble space telescope has revealed the smallest fraction of this glory through startling nebulas and galaxies, the Hubble deep field, etc.)
In Psalms 50:6 and Ps. 89:5 we read that the heavens also reveal God’s righteousness and faithfulness as well, a topic for another article: “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge;” “the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too,…” According to Psalm 97:6, both God’s righteousness and glory are proclaimed: “the heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” In Psalm 145:10 we read: “All you have made will praise you,…” which includes everything in the heavens and on the earth and under the earth and in the seas – everything God has made praises him. According to Isaiah 6:3 Seraphim call to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.” Numbers 14:21 proclaims that “the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth…” “According to Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what is been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Of course, the full glory of God is currently hidden because of the fall and its effects – we see probably only the smallest fraction. But one day “the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5). “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Indeed, “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). Hawaii is just one of those wonders.
The first commercial flight to Hawaii was offered by Pan Am in 1935 with just a few thousand visitors a year, mostly by boat, but today, some nine-10 million people visit the Hawaiian Paradise each year. Unfortunately, all its visitors combined since the Christian missionaries first arrived in 1820 comprise only a comparatively miniscule number of people. Sadly, 99.999999999+ % of all people who have ever lived have never seen these magical islands, and far less than 1% of all people living today never will. Those who have been there have been blessed with an experience few will know.
My Experience in the Islands
Thanks to God’s grace and kindness (thank you, Lord), I have enjoyed the unmatched physical privilege and indescribable pleasures of living in Hawaii for 13 years (1997-2006; 2008-2010, and for three months in Waikiki when I was eight years old). On February 26, 1997 (happily, my birthday), I left Chattanooga Tennessee for the islands, taking up residence on Maui. I lived principally in beach-perfect Kihei/Wailea area. But I also spent from months to years on a gorgeous 20 acre property at the 3000’ elevation of Haleakala (Olinda), sporting utterly spectacular views of the West Maui Mountains; in Huelo (perched on top of the majestic 300’sea cliffs of Waipio Bay on the North Shore), and in Wailuku, capital city of Maui County, which includes three islands. While living on Maui, I had innumerable joyous trips to three of my favorite places – the exceptional towns of Lahaina, Kaanapali and Kapalua, the latter being one of the prettiest places on earth, sporting killer “in-your-face” views of the islands of Lanai and Molokai, especially from the terrace of the beautiful Kapalua Bay Hotel.
I also visited the other major islands on one or more occasions. First, the grand and expansive Big Island, which reminded me of driving across Texas. Second, “pin-drop” quiet Lana’i, without a single stoplight, only 3000 residents, and the island where I met the expert Christian photographer Joe West (http://joewestphoto.com/). Third, stunningly beautiful Kaua’i, where I visited the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” spectacular beaches, and the two five-star hotels. Fourth, Oah’u with its iconic Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head volcano, the most famous volcano crater in the world. Last but not least, due to a gracious pilot, I briefly flew a Piper cub while flying over Moloka’i and its truly stunning 3,000 foot sea cliffs. I also visited often and lived for a short period in Honolulu, the New York City of paradise. Some of the best times I’ve had were walking the entire length of Waikiki Beach, going in and out of the water, and visiting all the fancy beach hotels (e.g., two National Historic Landmarks: the iconic and elegant Royal Hawaiian (1927) and The Moana Surf Rider (which opened in 1901, hosted British royalty, and was the tallest building in the islands until the Aloha Tower was constructed in 1926), as well as the modern Hilton & Marriott; also the hundreds of shops along Kalakaua Ave – especially beachside Dukes Restaurant & Barefoot Bar whose walls even had pictures from my growing up in La Jolla days (a well-known and scenic beach suburb of San Diego).
Maui is known by the locals as “No-ka-oi” – the best of the islands. And for good reason: as unique and special as each island is (as you will briefly see); Maui seems to have the best of them all, if that’s possible.
I mentioned photographer Joe West above. Just for fun, here’s one of Joe’s most unique photos – snapped at just the right moment, a rainbow in the background, caught in the deep channel between Maui and Lanai – it’s as if the giant humpback whale were lifting its “hands” in praise to God:
Copyright Joe West
I miss Hawaii every day – every time I see the new “Hawaii Five-O” TV series, my heart yearns. If I have a home on this planet, it resides in those majestic islands and always will.
As Mark Twain and others have pointed out, Hawaii seems to be a remnant of Eden, a paradise God specifically placed in the center of the Pacific for His own purposes and glory. One of those purposes is certainly a powerful natural reminder that Heaven does exist and thus there is a Heaven on the way: Hawaii is merely the briefest and slightest foretaste. My first year on the island, no matter where I traveled (and I circled the island many times), I was amazed by the seamless ambience and stunning beauty.
In the following material I have provided a brief description of each of the islands (all 8 plus 2) in the hopes of encouraging readers, if at all possible, to visit these foretastes of Heaven during their lifetime — at least once – and to get the message. What’s the message? The glory of God. And if these islands display the glory of God, we know from the above Scriptures they also display His righteousness, justice and faithfulness, things we must listen to in order to inherit salvation and the true eternal paradise that potentially awaits all of us through personal faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
First, we will begin with some interesting or amazing things that most people don’t even know about the island chain itself. After this, we will examine each island individually as well as a unique Hawaiian caldera off Maui, and the newest of the Hawaiian islands, still underwater, inevitably rising upwards from the seafloor.
The Hawaiian Archipelago
THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS brim with superlatives, even defy them. Magical, alluring, enchanted, enticing, delicious — sometimes even these appellations can seem empty. Hawaii has provided the world with reassurance there exists a Paradise this side of Heaven. Pulitzer Prize winning author James A. Michener, author of Tales of the South Pacific and Hawaii, was correct in emphasizing: “there was then, as there is now, no place known on earth that even began to compete with these islands….” Famed writer and humorist Mark Twain echoed the sentiments of millions today when he wrote: “No alien land in all the world has any deep, strong charm for me but that one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done. Other things leave me, but it abides; other things change, but it remains the same…” For Twain, Hawaii’s normal annual temperature of 77°F made these islands, “the peacefullest, restfullest, balmiest, dreamiest haven of refuge for a worn and weary spirit the surface of the earth can offer.”
Located “2400 miles from reality,” Hawaii features some of the best resorts, chefs, golfing, beaches, waterfalls, hiking, surfing, snorkeling, sunsets, and windsurfing anywhere, plus two of America’s most spectacular national parks. It has some 600 golden-sand, year-round beaches, the most active volcano on earth, the world’s hottest lava (2200°), the earth’s largest known lava tube, one of the highest lakes, one of the deepest wells, and the best known indigenous dance in the world, the Hula. Each island has one or more of the most beautiful settings on earth. For example, the striking beauty of Hanalei Bay on Kauai occupies a splendor that can literally bring tears to your eyes – especially gazing 200 feet below from the back veranda of the main level of the magnificent Westin Princeville Ocean Resort.
First, consider six brief facts about the island chain known as Hawaii.
THE most isolated island chain and largest isolated population on earth.
THE projecting tops of the biggest mountain range on earth.
THE youngest place with the oldest volcanoes on earth.
THE largest orchid industry on earth, with some 22,000 varieties growing in Hilo’s nurseries alone; the world’s largest production of macadamia nuts.
THE biggest telescope, the largest wind generator, and more scientific observatories in one place than anywhere else in the world.
THE only place on earth where an erupting volcano can be observed safely up close. (I spent a day walking the Kilauea fields, feeling the heat. When I lived in Kihei, I was just a ten minute drive from the expansive remnants of a large Haleakala eruption near La Perouse Bay, I think during the 19th century. (Haleakala means “House of the Sun,” and comprises all of East Maui.)
Second, consider six additional expanded descriptions of the uniqueness of this archipelago. Hawaii has:
THE tallest and the largest mountains on earth. Hawaii has two mountains taller than Mount Everest – Mauna Kea (33,500 feet tall from the seafloor) and Haleakala (29,700 feet above the seafloor). Mauna Loa “is the largest volcano and the largest single mountain of any kind in the world.” In the early stages of an eruption, it will produce between one and 5 million tons of lava per hour. 
THE longest chain of islands on earth (3,700 miles – longer than the continental U.S.), with over 90 volcanoes and 100 islands, islets and atolls stretching Northwest past Midway—“encompassing an array of scientific and historic objects found nowhere else on earth,” as well as 70% of all coral reefs in U.S. waters. Mauna Kea’s summit “is considered the best site on earth for astronomy” with over 13 major observatories operated by 11 different nations, comprising the world’s largest most precise and most powerful cluster of astronomical observatories. It’s Keck telescopes constitute the biggest optical-infrared telescopes on Earth and are capable of gathering even more light (and thus can see farther) than the Hubble space telescope itself.
THE longest erupting volcano on earth (Kilauea), which has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983, almost 30 years, making it the longest erupting volcano in recorded Hawaiian history. Kilauea’s eruptions have added almost 600 new acres of land to the Big Island and covered over 8 miles of highway with its lava, in places as deep as 120 feet. It is currently gushing out about 88,000,000 ft.³ of lava daily or enough lava to fill over 1,000 Olympic size swimming pools daily (as of March 8, 2011). (Kilauea is one of the volcanoes on Mauna Loa. Even in 1859 Harpers Weekly (April 16, p. 249) reported that “the crater of Kilauea on the side of this mountain (Mauna Loa) has long been celebrated as one of the largest active volcanoes, and has been so often described that we pass it by…” (If you wish to read a first-hand account of the spectacular 1859 eruption of Mauna Loa itself, which sent lava 1000 feet into the air, see the footnote.) Kīlauea has covered over 40 square miles of the island with lava. Incredibly, a 1984 eruption allegedly sent lava almost 2,000 feet high (this is disputed), but paving 16 square miles of land with lava in just three weeks!
The total lava flow was 220,000,000 cubic meters.
THE largest number of “best-rated” and unique beaches in America — including, white, black, red, brown, golden, and even, believe it or not, one green sand beach – and every last one is a public beach. Although there are many “best beach” lists, and subjectivity is involved, America’s “foremost beach expert” is “Dr. Beach” (Florida International University coastal science professor Dr. Stephen Leatherman, http://www.drbeach.org/), who has been reviewing beaches around the world for 20 years, ranking them according to 50 independent criteria. He has selected 16 Hawaii Beaches for his “top 10” list as well as some making the “best beach in the United States” list – one selected, they are retired from competition. But the Travel Channel and other top lists have also included Hawaii Beaches.
Speaking of beaches, I grew up “body whomping” and body surfing in La Jolla, California as part of the “Pumphouse Gang” (WindanSea Pump House #21), made noteworthy by famous “new journalism” author Tom Wolfe in his book of that title, so beach life was part of my soul, and moving to Hawaii came natural. In La Jolla, I grew up two blocks from WindanSea beach on Bon Air Avenue. I remember my brother-in-law telling me he helped build its historical landmark, the grass-roofed surfer shack in the mid-1940s, which historically has been “defined by some of the most progressive and colorful characters in California… Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer magazine and current publisher of The Surfer’s Journal, called Windansea locals in the early 1960s, ‘the heaviest surf crew ever.'” All the same, my brother-in-law may have been part of the original “Pumphouse” Gang). Of course, without a wetsuit, I could only go in the water during the summer – but on Maui with an average water temperature of 76-77 ° and 80° in the summer, I could be in the water every day. I remember celebrating many Christmas and “winter” days in one of the incredible beaches along the stretch from Kihei to Wailea, rain or shine, day or night — it was all glorious. I also have fond memories of visiting the black sand beach at Wainapanapa State Park, where you can rent inexpensive, cozy little bungalows; the beach has lava cliffs, sea caves, a seaside lava tube, blowhole, and a sea arch, and, as on most beaches, you can safely go snorkeling or diving – however, some places have treacherous currents as I learned on one of Kauai’s most majestic beaches, almost at the expense of my life. Regardless, per relative size, Hawaii has more coastline (750 miles) than any other state – only Alaska, Florida and California have more coastline, but they are hundreds of times bigger.
By continuing – Hawaii has:
THE most unique and diverse ecosystem in the world (allegedly) — including some 9,000 types of plants, fish and animals found nowhere else on earth. There are violets eight feet tall, and the magnificent six foot Silversword — in all God’s glorious green earth found only at the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala. Hawaii embraces eleven of the world’s thirteen different major climate zones and something like 50 of the 70 minor climate zones – all in this tiny little archipelago. As many as 70 percent of the native plants and animals living in Hawaii are said to be found nowhere else in the world, and a greater variety of fish exist in Hawaiian waters than anywhere in the seven seas, 25% of them being found only in the waters of Hawaii, and nowhere else. I’ll never forget the kinds of striking and beautiful fish I’ve seen snorkeling just off any beach with reefs, and the breathtaking drop-offs I would dramatically encounter. By God’s good pleasure, Hawaii has “extremely high rates of endemism [unique to Hawaii] for various categories of species. For example, about 79% of the native flowering plant species of the Hawaiian Islands are endemic, along with about 70% of native ferns of the Hawaiian Islands. About 25% of native Hawaiian reef fish are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.”
The HawaiianEncyclopedia.com refers to the islands fauna as “a story of species evolution like nowhere else on earth.” But it’s really a story of God’s creation like nowhere else on earth.
Hawaii (I’d wager) has the largest number of rainbows of any state — one ancient Hawaiian proverb referencing rainbows observes that “The royal eyes rest above.” In fact, I’ve seen many double rainbows in the islands, one rainbow right on top of the other, with the larger rainbow having its colors reversed. I’ve also seen some beautiful Moon bows. Mimicking the rainbow, Hawaii also has the most colorful tree on earth, the beautiful rainbow eucalyptus, with shades of red, green, purple, yellow and blue bark.
The Big Island by itself also has 11 of the world’s 13 major climate zones and there are as many different climate zones in Hawaii as exist along the coast stretching from central America to Alaska, climates as rich and diverse from the lush Iao Valley on Maui, the second or third wettest spot on earth, to the desert of Kihei just 20 minutes away; from the unique in America Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, to the unique in America beautiful rain forests on Maui’s famous road to Hana; from the unique and stunning moonscape that is the magnificent crater atop Haleakala, to snow on the top of Mauna Kea; from the beautiful Waimea Canyon of Kauai, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, to the gorgeous Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu.
And, probably half the planet is familiar with Hawaii’s most iconic attraction, known to be the most famous volcano crater on Earth – the 760 foot tall, 500 acre Diamond Head of Waikiki, a United States National Natural Landmark. Seen from the air, it’s a virtually perfect circular tuff cone. I still have memories of going inside the crater as an eight-year-old, a unique experience back in 1956 when visitors weren’t permitted to the interior. The dormant volcano has a number of military bunkers dating back to World War II and was a military lookout as early as 1900. (“Diamond Head” received its name from sailors in the 19th century who misinterpreted embedded calcite crystals for diamonds. Talk about a letdown.) Despite the volcanoes unique profile and visual magnetism, the single eruption that so carefully sculptured the crater probably produced it in just a couple of days. One can see all of Honolulu and stunning coastal views from the top of the crater.
But Hawaii, the aloha state, is also the single most unique state in the entire American nation. It is:
THE widest state, youngest state, southernmost state and point of the 50 United States (not the Florida Keys but the Big Island’s Ka Lae); the only US state made up wholly of islands, entirely an archipelago. It has the largest contiguous ranch (The Parker Ranch) and the only royal palace in the United States (Iolani Palace) “the only official state residence of royalty in the United States.” It’s the only state in the nation not to have a straight line in its boundary. It’s the only US state to have an official celebration of its monarchy commemorated continually since it was first established in 1871, King Kamehameha Day. Hawaii is the only state in the nation that grows coffee – no other American state can grow coffee plants. It is the only US state producer of pineapple, supplying over one third of the world’s commercial needs; the only state never to record a below zero temperature, and has the only US city ever to be founded by royalty. It is the only state to be entirely composed of volcanoes and one of the most studied geological places on earth. (And for music aficionados, two distinctive guitar sounds (the steel guitar and the slack key guitar) were invented in Hawaii.)
Hawaii is the only state that has been the whaling capital of the world, with almost 600 whaling ships arriving in 1846, and the only state that is a global mecca for surfers. “Jaws” on Maui is named after the famous shark film because of the suddenness with which the waves can arrive, located a few miles east of Pa’ia, the last town before reaching Hana, 50 miles away. Some consider it the best surfing in the world, in part because it may have the biggest waves on earth. It may have some that are unique in size and ferocity – rarely, they can allegedly reach as high as 90-120 feet on their face and travel at 35 mi./h, the result of very complex weather and oceanic conditions that apparently begin in Alaska. (For comparison, the world’s biggest tsunami was the 1720 foot tidal wave of Lituya Bay, Alaska on July 9, 1958; what are termed “rogue waves” that appear from nowhere and sink large ships routinely reach 100 feet or more.) A couple of other places on earth might rival Jaws in terms of overall size, but none rival its hollow tubes and size. Surfers have been scanning the world for a place with similar characteristics to Jaws, but as yet none has been found.
There are no racial or ethnic minorities in Hawaii because it is the most ethnically and racially diverse state in the Union, with the cleanest air and the highest life expectancy — boasting the best overall quality of life in America. (However Kilauea’s “vog” or “volcanic fog” may have sullied the “cleanest air” category, I’m not sure; it probably has for Maui, the closest island.)
Hawaii bears the unique designation as the place where World War II both began (Pearl Harbor) – and indirectly ended, aboard the USS Missouri (which resides on “battleship Row” in Pearl Harbor) that hosted Japan’s official surrender in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945.
Hawaii is the only state in the nation where you can see the North Star and the Southern Cross, a top Mauna Kea and Haleakala. Of all the stars that are possible to see from planet Earth, 80% can be seen from Hawaii. Hawaii and only one other state (Arizona) do not observe Daylight Savings Time, but only Hawaii has its own time zone, Hawaii Standard Time. Only Hawaii and Alaska do not share a border with another state, but Hawaii is the only state encircled by water and not bordered by another state. It’s air temperature only varies about 10° year-round and its water temperature only about 2-3°.
In the US, only Hawaii and Alaska are snake free, for obvious reasons, perhaps another hint of Eden. Hawaii has a special government division devoted to keeping snakes off the island because of the havoc they could wreak with the unique bird other animal populations. But, speaking of snakes and their consequences…
High Chiefess Kapi’olani & A Briefest Legacy of Human Sacrifice & Hawaiian Christian Missions
Given our nation’s rich Judeo-Christian history, it’s hardly surprising there are certain state mottos that reflect this countries historical interest in the biblical God:
- Kentucky: “Let Us Be Grateful to God”
- Arizona: “God Enriches”
- Colorado: “Nothing Without the Deity”
- Ohio: “With God All Things Are Possible”
- South Dakota: “Under God, the People Rule”
- Florida: “In God We Trust”
This is true also for our 50th state. But only two states – Ohio and (apparently) Hawaii have state mottos based on a biblical scripture (– Kentucky might possibly be related to Hebrews 12:28). Ohio’s motto was adopted in 1959, the same year Hawaii became the 50th state, but 148 years after Ohio achieved statehood. The Hawaiian motto was adopted by the Kingdom of Hawaii’s on its coat of arms in 1843, making it almost 170 years old, and the oldest state motto apparently based on a biblical scripture. It became the official motto of the state of Hawaii during the 30th territorial legislature in 1959. This motto has some interesting history.
The state motto of Hawaii is Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono, “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated [preserved] in Righteousness,” allegedly, the first words spoken by High Chiefess Kapi’olani (1781-1841) in 1825 as she was baptized into the Christian faith, apparently based upon 2 Chronicles 7:14. (I have been told this, but I have not been able to find the documentation. But the connection is certainly made by many Hawaiians.)
Kapiʻolani means “heavenly arch” in Hawaiian and appropriately refers to a rainbow, a traditional sign of royalty. She loved her homeland deeply and when she became a Christian understood it for the gift from God that it was. She was also one of the most important members of the Hawaiian nobility at the time of the founding of the Kingdom of Hawaii and she helped prepare the way for the arrival of Christian missionaries. “Every high chief in the Hawaiian islands was her cousin, including Kamehameha I,” Hawaii’s first king who unified the islands” — her ancestors included royalty on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, and she may have met Capt. James Cook. With the help of the missionaries, she was one of the first Hawaiians to learn to read and write, and one of the first to found a Christian church. Apparently, her final words to her son on her deathbed were also those words that later officially became the state motto when Hawaii became the 50th state.
On a wall in my apartment I have a depiction of the courageous Kapi’olani. It bears the inscription, “Kapiolani defies the goddess Pele.” In one account written in 1870 we read: “The most fearful of all their deities was Pele, a goddess supposed to reside in the famous volcano of Kilauea.” On my wall next to High Chiefess Kapiolani is a depiction of a human baby being sacrificed to the evil goddess Pele from the Harpers Weekly of August 16, 1859, p. 249; they exist to remind me of both spiritual regeneration and its opposite, spiritual depravity; spiritual good and spiritual evil, life-and-death, and help me understand the significance of the choices I make every day – to live for God or myself.
After her conversion to Christian faith, High Chiefess Kapiolani fearlessly defied the pagan goddess Pele, still worshiped at the then active Kilauea volcano, converting many Hawaiians to Christian faith, making her bravery renowned at the volcano and Kapiolani the subject of a poem of that name by one of the most popular poets in the English language, Alfred Lord Tennyson (see note).
Just four years after the missionaries arrived, when Hawaii was still a largely pagan nation, uneducated, unable to write and engaging in the typical evils associated with idolatry, including human sacrifice. For example, until the Christian missionaries completely abolished the practice, it was as widespread as in any pagan nation. Human sacrifices were made in sacred temples for even small infractions of cast rules: prior to 1810, “Kauwa, the outcast or slave class, were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau… law-breakers of all castes or defeated political opponents were also acceptable as victims.” But the practice continued for decades even as the missionaries fought it. Harpers Weekly of August 16, 1859, page 249 discussed the great eruption of the volcano at Mauna Loa Hawaii. In the middle of the page is a depiction labeled “The Sacrifice to the Goddess Pele,” showing Hawaiians sacrificing a little child to the goddess, tossing it from the top of a tall palm tree to its death below, surely but one of many children sacrificed during that eruption.)
Kapiolani new well the evils of idolatry practiced by her people, having engaged in them herself before her conversion and was determined to make a stand:
- In the fall of 1824 she decided to show her people a dramatic demonstration of her faith…. She set out on foot, gathering a large crowd as she walked about sixty miles. Rev. Goodrich from the Hilo mission met her at the volcano near the end of December. The guardians of Pele warned that if she did not make the customary offerings, she would certainly be killed. Many remembered when their relatives were wiped out by an explosive eruption in 1790. She said a Christian prayer instead of the traditional one to Pele, and descended about 500 feet down into the main vent of Halemaʻumaʻu. There was a molten lava lake at the time, but no eruption and she survived intact, with only bruises on her feet from the long journey. This event has become legendary at the volcano.
Consider another account, recorded by William HG Kingston in The Cruise of the Mary Rose (1870), chapter 17 “The Courage of Kapiolani,” – somewhat reminiscent of Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal on Mount Caramel; for all we know this may be where she derived her inspiration:
- “Kapiolani, bold in the Christian faith, resolved practically to show how utterly powerless were these supposed fiery gods. After a journey of a hundred miles, as she neared the side of the mountain, a prophetess of the supposed goddess met her with warnings and denunciations of vengeance. But undauntedly she persevered, and as she stood on the black edge of the seething caldron she addressed, in words of perfect faith, the anxious bystanders watching for the effects of Pele’s wrath: ‘Jehovah is my God: He kindled these fires. I fear not Pele. If I perish, then you may believe that she exists, and dread her power. But if Jehovah saves me, then you must fear and serve Him.'”
That took a lot of guts but Kapiolani had her more placid side; her garden experiments with coffee later became the state center for growing the world famous Kona coffee.
High Chiefess Kapiolani gratefully lived to see one of Hawaii’s largest spiritual revivals: “During an evangelical crusade lasting from 1838 to 1840, more than 20,000 Hawaiians were converted to Protestantism and became members of the Congregational Church. This crusade later became known as “The Great Revival.”
A dozen sets of Christian missionaries visited the islands from 1820-60, radically and positively altering them forever – without those missionaries no one would be visiting Hawaii today, for the evil paganism and human sacrifice would still be continued and no one would want to visit the islands. But God had set the stage for his people:
- It was obvious to the missionaries that God had prepared the way for them. The great Hawaiian miracle had taken place — all of the obstacles that could have prevented the Gospel from being preached had been removed. Even Hewahewa the highest kahuna (priest) and direct descendant of Paau, the original Kahuna from Tahiti, was the first to set fire to a heiau (temple). He declared: “I knew the wooden images of deities, carved by our own hands, could not supply our wants, but worshiped them because it was a custom of our fathers. My thoughts has always been, there is only one great God, dwelling in the heavens.” Hewahewa also prophesied that a new God was coming and he went to Kawaihae to wait for the new God, at the very spot were the missionaries first landed.
Hawaii is the only kingdom, nation and state on earth that (I can determine) has converted to Christianity so rapidly – in less than 35 years.
“The book [Perpetuated in Righteousness: The Journey of the Hawaiian People from Eden (Kalana I Houola) to Present Time, by Daniel L. Kikawa (1994)] notes that within a few short years of the missionaries’ arrival, there were more Christians per capita in Hawaii than in the continental United States. The Hawaiian people had the great distinction as being known as one of the greatest Christian nations of that time. This revival was so great that it was said, “One could scarcely go in any direction, in the sugar cane or banana groves without finding children praying and weeping before God.” An 1853 census showed that 96% of the Hawaiian population of 71,019 claimed membership in a Christian Church. This period was dubbed the Great Awakening.
The famous saying ‘Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono’ (our State’s motto) means ‘The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness’. This legacy, to care for the people and the land in righteousness, was first given by the highest ali’i [nobility] in the land and the first Christian, Ke’opuolani. If her full legacy is read, then our State motto should read, “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated by the Righteousness of Iesu Cristo (Jesus Christ).”
If we briefly consider the highest-ranking wife of famed King Kamehameha I the Great, Queen Keōpuolani (1778-1823), mentioned above, whose son was King Kamehameha II, we discover her providential role. She played an instrumental part in breaking the Hawaiian kapu system (severe religious restrictions which could easily lead to death, especially for slaves and women), which helped pave the way for the missionaries, and she was among the first converts.
Near death she proclaimed her faith, and issued a warning:
“I love Jesus Christ. I have given myself to him to be his. When I die, let none of the evil customs of this country be practiced. Let not my body be disturbed. Let it be put in a coffin. Let the teachers attend, and speak to the people at my interment. Let me be buried, and let my burial be after the manner of Christ’s people. I think very much of my grandfather, Kalaniopuʻu, and my father Kiwalaʻo, and my husband Kamehameha, and all my deceased relatives. They lived not to see these good times, and to hear of Jesus Christ. They died depending on false gods. I exceedingly mourn and lament on account of them, for they saw not these good times.”
The noted Hawaiian Queen Kapiʻolani (distinct from the above Queen Keōpuolani ) was named after High Chiefess Kapiolani, who defied Pele. She reigned as Queen Consort of the Kingdom of Hawaii and also converted to the Christian faith (she was the daughter of High Chiefess Kapiʻolani’s nephew). “She was named Esther Kapiʻolani, after her great-aunt High Chiefess Kapiʻolani, who defied the goddess Pele in the name of Christianity, and the Biblical queen Esther.” (The given name “Esther” was appropriately selected because the biblical Esther also risked her own life to save her people, bravely, without permission, seeking an audience before the King of Persia, an act worthy of death, but one that, through God’s providence, resulted in saving the Jewish race from extinction (see the book of Esther).
Queen Kapiʻolani had a number of noted institutions named after her including the Kapiʻolani Medical Center at Pali Momi, Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Kapiʻolani Community College, the beautiful Kapiʻolani Park in Waikiki and the Queen Kapiolani Hotel just a few blocks from Waikiki Beach, across from the Honolulu zoo. From the third floor swimming pool it has simply stunning views of Diamond Head. (I stayed at this wonderful hotel for a week when I first arrived in Hawaii.) Further:
“The Royal Order of Kapiʻolani (Kapiʻolani e Hoʻokanaka) was instituted on August 30, 1880 by King Kalākaua to recognize services in the cause of humanity, for merit in Science and the Arts, or for special services rendered to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. He named the Order in memory of his wife Queen Kapiʻolani an early exponent of Christianity in the Hawaiian Islands, and namesake of Chiefess Kapiʻolani. This Order was awarded 177 times in all grades during Kalākaua’s reign, and three more times by his successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani.”
One can but wonder what Hawaii would be like today had no Christian missionaries ever made that very difficult journey. The difference they achieved through God’s grace is truly a difference of night and day – culturally, religiously, educationally, governmentally, entrepreneurially, scientifically and otherwise. All because a relatively small number of New England Protestant missionaries were led of the Lord to visit a strange and foreboding land 2500 miles into the ocean, and 5,000 miles from home.
Luke 10:2 supplies Jesus commanded his disciples: “These were his instructions to them: ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.'” (NLT) Let us remember to pray to the Lord of the harvest and beseech Him to send out more workers. Indeed, to seek the Lord if perhaps he would send out one of us as His workers – that more peoples, cultures and nations would be impacted with the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God and His beloved Son.
Nevertheless, having looked at the Hawaiian archipelago as a whole, let’s now take a quick tour through each individual Hawaiian island; you’ll notice that each one has been given an appropriate island or “Isle” nickname:
HAWAII (“The Big Island”, “The Orchid Isle”) is constructed of 5 major volcanoes. Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth. From base to peak it rises 33,480 feet. Mauna Loa is the biggest mountain on earth. It has a volume of 10,200 cubic miles! Kilauea is the most active volcano on earth, having spewed over 25 billion feet of lava — enough to cover the entire U.S. The Big Island’s “Ka Lae” is the southernmost point in the United States. Only here on earth (as far as we know) is there a constant 33 MPH per hour wind blowing east to west 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Most macadamia nuts on earth are grown on this single island. On one side is Hilo, the largest orchid industry on earth. On the opposite side is Kona, the Marlin capital of the world. “Even jaded travelers may run out of superlatives when they’re confronted with the beauty of the Big Island.”
MAUI (“The Valley Isle”) is, put simply, the best island on earth, and not just in my opinion merely because I lived there and love it. Anyone who travels is aware of the Condé Nast Traveler magazine, the world’s premier travel magazine. Its readers are among the most discriminating of travelers. How does this relate to Maui?
In 2011, for an unprecedented and almost stunning, but not really surprising, 17th year in a row, Maui captured “Best Island in the World” honors in the Magazines “Readers’ Choice Awards.” It was also voted “Best US Island” for the 21st consecutive year. The island score exceeded that of every other top destination in the world, including beating every “best city” category winner. Over 28,000 readers voted representing about 8 million individual votes.
Maui has every temperate zone on earth except tundra, and one of the few tropical rain forests in the world accessible by car.
Once the whaling capital of the world, most of the ocean’s humpback whales still congregate here yearly, offering exhibitions without comparison, especially with a total breach. Over 4,000 humpbacks arrive around October, staying for as long as six months.
Maui’s “road to Hana” is one of the most unique and beautiful stretches of pavement anywhere, with 617 curves, 56 bridges and hundreds of striking vistas and waterfalls – all in just 50 miles. But to do it even a little justice, a one-way trip takes at least half a day. (To illustrate just the slightest idea of the natural beauty along the road to Hana, if you park your car at the most compact “U-turn” and walk up the lengthy natural hillside that’s like a driveway, you’ll reach the top and find the water canal which carries water from one side of the island to the other. If you carefully cross over the lengthy canyon “bridge” (about a 150 foot drop), jump over the canal, meander down and then up the trail to the top of the hill – and then very carefully hug the side of the cliff down again to the bottom (a drop could cause serious injury or worse), you’ll find yourself in one of the most luxurious and naturally beautiful environments on the island. You are on one side of an oval, triple Olympic pool sized small lake of water surrounded by lush cliffs and mountains. Looking to the other end of the scenic lake is a glorious and marvelous 30 foot waterfall. When I first moved to the islands, few knew about this place; when I left, the park authority had built a state park on the adjacent property. Still, it seems that most people don’t know about that waterfall, even though they can get there a lot easier.)
The incredible Haleakala or “House of the Sun” is the largest “dormant” volcano on earth. Its crater, at a 10,000 foot elevation, presents a 3,000 foot deep dreamscape with majestic cindercones that cover 25 square miles and into which New York’s Manhattan Island would fit. You can walk down inside of it, walk the unearthly interior – and spend the night if you want. This enormous “House of the Sun,” with 97% of its volume still below sea level, offers the world’s only paved road that travels from sea level to 10,000 feet in just three dozen miles. (It’s the only place on earth you can actually bike down a volcano for 37 straight miles.) Mark Twain may have understated it when he wrote that Haleakala was “the sublimest spectacle I ever witnessed.”
As a visitor to Maui, at the activities kiosks, one often hears that the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic in 1927, declared he would “rather spend a day on Maui than an entire month in New York.” Most never hear the backdrop to that story. Charles Lindbergh was dying in New York City in 1974, and he wanted to go back to his beloved Maui. His doctors told him he couldn’t make the trip and that he would almost certainly die on the way; at best he might have a day remaining on Maui. That’s when he spoke the above comment: “I’d rather spend a day on Maui than an entire month in New York.” Lindbergh not only made the trip, he had something like 17 days to enjoy Maui before his death. I still remember visiting his grave on the grounds of the Palapala Ho’omau church (founded in 1857), about 10 miles past Hana in Kipahulu, overlooking the vast blue Pacific. His gravestone reads “… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…” (Psalm 139:9) Verse 10 continues: “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
The best overall beach on earth might be Maui’s Kapalua Bay Hotel Beach, situated between two beautiful peninsulas. The islands’ spectacular Keanae Peninsula, with its splendid black lava outcrops, is surely one of the most eye-catching.
In the simple conclusion of Sullivan’s premier Driving and Discovering Hawaii, “Maui has no equal.”
OAHU (“The Gathering Isle”) is, appropriately, the most visited Hawaiian island (6-7 million yearly visitors), with the most famous resort on earth, Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Waikīkī Beach is only about ½-mile wide, and less than 2 miles long – but this compressed geography of Waikiki Beach has 35,000 hotel rooms and condominiums (some 300 hotels and condominiums); 1,100 shops; over 700 restaurants and 350 bars – plus about 75,000 visitors on any given day, all crammed together in less than one square mile — and it’s still paradise.
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head crater together offer unparalleled beauty as one of the most famous tourist ‘beach & mountain’ scenes anywhere. Some 25 world-renowned beaches ring Oahu (about 130 total), including Sunset, Waimea, Ehuka (the “Banzai Pipeline”), and the spectacular Kanauma Bay. (As a point of interest, while attending La Jolla High School, I worked for kindhearted manager Spencer Wilson (“Mr. La Jolla”) at the well-known Cove Theater on Girard Avenue. Spencer attended high school with Gregory Peck and helped Charles Lindbergh launch gliders off the Bluffs south of Pacific Beach, and he also knew J. Edgar Hoover (I retain a letter from Hoover). (When attending San Diego State University, I visited the Bluffs while I lived along the South Mission Beach Seawall.) Working at the Cove theater with me for a time was Marvin Van Artsdalen, the brother of Butch Van Artsdalen, a legendary WindanSea surfer, allegedly, the first to sit down on his board at the Pipeline (regardless, he was the first to conquer the Pipeline and became “Mr. Pipeline”, 1963). He began his professional surfing career at Hawaii’s North Shore, became a member of the famed Duke Kahanamoku Surf Team and appeared in the classic film, “Endless Summer”.)
KAUAI (“The Garden Isle”) is the Western-most part of the United States, known as “The Eden of Hawaii.” Kauai is possibly the most beautiful island anywhere. It is home to the breathtaking “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and the wettest spot on earth (the 5150 foot Mount Waialeale) — with 460 inches of average annual rainfall over 32 years, the highest average in the world. In 1982, 681 inches of rain were recorded, establishing another global record — over 56 feet of rain. Kauai is also home to some of the most famous movies—Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, South Pacific, and Blue Hawaii to name a few. This was the first of the Hawaiian Islands visited by Captain Cook, and the only island to be inhabited by the mysterious Menehune tribe. The historic Kilauea Point lighthouse on Kauai’s truly majestic North Shore is the northernmost point of the Hawaiian chain, once a key navigational point for ships sailing the Orient Run and even today contains the world’s largest clamshell lens.
MOLOKAI (“The Friendly Isle”) — her wild North Shore features the tallest sea cliffs on earth—and perhaps the most stunning. These magnificent cloud-shrouded cliffs hang from the heavens and drop precipitously 3,000 feet into the sea. Here is Hawaii’s least visited isle, longest waterfall, and the largest white sand beach in the state. Kalawao of North Molokai is the smallest county in the entire US and the second smallest county in the nation by population. The legendary Father Damien leper colony still resides here, although with less than 100 residents.
LANAI (“The Pineapple Isle” or “The Private Isle”) remains magically secluded as the least populated (3,000); in its heyday it was the largest single pineapple plantation and greatest pineapple producer in the world. Lanai is the only location in Hawaii from which 5 other Hawaiian islands can be viewed. The marine preserve Hulope Bay is considered one of the best diving spots in the world.
NIIHAU (“The Forbidden Isle”) is without electric power, phones, or traffic (transportation is by horse or bike), accessible only by invitation, and the last place on earth where Hawaiian is spoken as an everyday language. It is the only congregation of pure blooded Hawaiians on earth, pop. 250. But even here, very rare pink, white and yellow Laiki, Kehelelani and Momi seashells wash up on Niihau shores two or three times a year. The best leis of these shells command thousands of dollars and the intricate and multistranded product is now considered a dying craft by the Smithsonian; many become valuable rareties the moment they are produced.
KAHOOLAWE (“The Unforgotten Isle”) is the remnant of a single wall volcano and basically a desert. It is the smallest, most dangerous, and only unpopulated isle of all the Islands. Once a well used military target range (1941-90) today it is a growing nature reserve with vast deposits of the famous “Hawaiian Red Dirt.”
MOLOKINI CALDERA is one of only three of its kind on earth and one of the top ten dive spots on the planet. The backside is home to the longest dive wall on earth– “the best in the world,” according to readers of Scuba Diving magazine. I’ll never forget the many wonderful boat trips I took here with friends.
LOIHI (“Long One,” still emerging)—an active undersea volcano and newest Hawaiian island, now rising more than 10,000 feet above the seafloor, taller than Mt. St. Helens and also Haleakala from the ocean’s surface. Loihi is within about 950 meters of the surface. If it keeps rising, it will be born just 20 miles south of the Big island.
Hawaii is truly a paradise and has been recognized as such by almost everyone – once again, it is simultaneously a remnant of Eden and a foretaste of Heaven.
But the news gets better. You can live there forever without cost and, in fact you can live forever in a place a thousand times better – Heaven itself, whose every form of beauty will actually make Hawaii today seem like a New Delhi or Tijuana slum. All that is required is personal trust in the biblical Jesus Christ. Jesus is, literally, your “free ticket” to Paradise – it cost Him everything so it would cost you nothing. Consider the following words of the one, true, and living God:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Sonb into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-10).
Becoming a Christian is the simplest, easiest thing in the world – it costs you nothing initially but everything later. You give your life away in love to God, because once you understand who He and what He has done for you, it’s impossible to do anything else. You learn who you are, why you are here, what happens when you die and everything you ever wanted to know about the most wonderful Treasure in the universe, God Himself. Just talk to any “born again” Christian – they wouldn’t trade what they have for anything – not even the universe itself.
Whenever you think of Hawaii, think of Jesus. For if there is a greatest treasure on this Earth, it is Hawaii and if there is a greatest Treasure in the universe, it is Jesus.
If you want to know more about becoming a Christian see the homepage of JAshow.org
- This article was prepared over the years, finalized in its initial form about 10 years ago and, for the most part, has not been updated. Because it consisted of jotting down personal notes from my reading while living in Hawaii, original sources were not always recorded, hence the paucity of endnotes.