Fire, Water and Pain
Rapid Response Team Chaplains Offer Comfort in Oklahoma, Tennessee
August 14, 2012 - With weather across the country continuing its unpredictable wild ride, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been called into action to minister to people affected by wildfires in Olive, Okla., and flooding in Johnson City, Tenn.
On Aug. 5, six inches of rain fell in just a few hours in Johnson City, Tenn., stirring the creek into a raging torrent that damaged 173 homes. No injuries or deaths were reported, but officials have warned people to be careful as cleanup begins. Because septic systems were destroyed and barns and garages with hazardous material were swept up, it is not safe to eat food from vegetable gardens or to drink well water.
RRT Chaplain Al New, who arrived a few days ago to evaluate the need for ministry, noticed a man standing outside a damaged home. Looking bewildered, the man waved New over and began to talk. Soon, the topic of church came up and the man admitted he had “no spiritual base.”
Hearing the interesting conversation developing outside, the man’s wife peeked around the corner and came outside to join in. She was visibly shaking as she glanced at the overcast sky and admitted being afraid of another storm coming.
As New shared about the love and protection of Jesus and explained how to be saved, he realized neither of the two could read or write. The verbal presentation he gave and the work of the Holy Spirit touched both hearts and the couple committed their lives to Christ for the first time.
“The gentleman’s eyes watered up as he prayed to receive Christ,” said New. “This is why we come—to bring His comfort and His presence.”
A team from Samaritan’s Purse will be removing drywall and cleaning out water and debris.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, wildfires rapidly blazed across a landscape deprived of rain since May, scorching nearly 100,000 acres since Aug. 2. Officials report that the fire is 100 percent contained, but without rain more fires are likely.
Emergency managers report that more than 300 homes have been destroyed across the state.
Volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse will assist homeowners by removing debris and sifting through the ashes for valuables and keepsakes.
Chaplain Chuck Bender noted that most of the people in the area don’t have homeowner’s insurance and they are devastated. “The spiritual needs are great here. Many people are hurting and lost. We are building a foundation for upcoming ministry right now.”
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As the RRT ministers to people in crisis, we need your help with this and other outreach efforts. Please give today to help hurting people at home and around the world.