Last spring, representatives from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) met with Biola University faculty and staff about hosting a crisis training seminar. Sensing the need to equip their students, Biola spent some time building the training into their budget.
On September 11 and 12, the anniversary of the beginning of the RRT, His Presence in Crisis training launched Soul Care, a student peer-to-peer ministry response group. When students are walking through hard times, this ministry will provide someone to counsel and encourage them. Of the 835 people present during this particular training session, 600 of them were students.
The remaining 235 attendees were comprised of lay people and pastors from local churches. Participants even came from other states, such as Oregon, Washington and Florida. The person who came the farthest was from Indonesia.
While there have been training sessions on other campuses, this was the first one of its kind: where the focus is to equip the student body. Attendees completed His Presence in Crisis training, conducted by Jonathan Olford, who wrote the training seminar in response to the September 11 tragedy, when churches needed a resource.
“I always like to say this bridges the biblical and clinical,” said Jack Munday, Director of the RRT. “This was also a good fit for Biola University. This training was totally paid for by the university, with no charge to those who wanted to participate. It spoke volumes to us that these students and other trainees would register and still attend with no financial investment.”
As time goes by there is a greater percentage of our general population experiencing personal crises, such as wayward children, criminal deaths, divorces and financial problems. “Moral decay in our society brings brokenness. God loves us so much that he allows pain to draw us back to him,” explained Munday. “So, we developed these training sessions in such a way to help people share the gospel with someone going through a personal crisis, like losing a child. This is someone’s own ‘September 11.’ Given the times in which we’re living, I applaud Biola for stepping forward to recognize and have an interest in their student body to equip them to do this.”
Training Into Action
Just a week after the training event, students were invited to a Soul Care gathering. Approximate 65 people attended that time of follow-up and debriefing from the His Presence in Crisis training. Two weeks later, previous training participants were invited to become a part of a Soul Care ministry team (usually comprised of 3 to 4 people). Now, 13 Soul Care ministry teams are being equipped and prepared to minister to people who are suffering through listening, prayer and encouragement.
“The Rapid Response Team His Presence in Crisis seminar served as a major catalyst to help us intentionally emphasize a culture of care for people experiencing personal pain and trauma,” said Barbara Miller, Director of Spiritual Life at Biola. “The training equipped hundreds of people to effectively minister Christ’s hope and love to people suffering both within our Biola community and beyond.”