Lahaina Banyan Tree...where Uncle Phillip will always be remembered
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Phillip Prais was much more than a man with “white beard and long hair” who “called out to passers-by at Banyan Tree Park”. He was a son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, nephew, companion, and friend. He was a Native Son, being born and raised on Maui and having half Hawaiian blood that can be traced back to royalty. He was not homeless. He had a home in Hana, but he chose to live a simple life dedicating his time to spreading the Gospel in the travelers’ hub of Lahaina. He was much more than a “sidewalk preacher”. His ministry, however unconventional, spanned over 35 years. He forsook the creature comforts that most of us take for granted in order to devote himself to the Word of God; he gave freely, expecting no compensation. He conferred with rich and poor, great and small alike, and the seeds he sowed literally reach across the globe.
His dedication to his mission cost him dearly, but he didn’t compromise his beliefs or his principles, no matter what he came up against or lost personally. If you took the time to talk with him, you would find that he knew the Bible like the back of his hand, and he could find you a scripture to address any matter. He could have chosen to conform to this world. His earthly life certainly would have been much easier. But he stood by his convictions to the end, and those who love him find solace in the fact that he is now in a better place, at peace and at rest. His legacy will live on through those whose lives he has impacted. Criminal trespass? Harrassment? Disorderly conduct? It is ironic that he was found by a church called “Holy Innocents”. While man brought judgement and criminal charges against Mr. Prais, we believe that God’s final judgement can be found in Matthew 24:21: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” We know that Brother Philip is watching us from heaven, having finished his work on this earth, and has entered into his rest with the Lord. Although we take comfort in this, we will miss him and, whether or not people realize it, his passing is a loss for our community.
The Prais ‘Ohana
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