“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”— Romans 12:15 (ESV)
On the heels of devastating tornado activity that killed dozens in the South and Midwest, massive flooding has prompted the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team to deploy to the Florida Panhandle this weekend.
It’s the sixth active deployment for the crisis-trained chaplain ministry, which has responded to more than 175 disasters since it began out of the ashes of 9/11.
BGEA already has teams of chaplains ministering to tornado survivors in four states: Mississippi (Louisville), Arkansas (Mayflower, Vilonia), Kansas (Baxter Springs) and Alabama (Athens).
The Rapid Response Team’s purpose it to help provide emotional and spiritual care to those affected by disasters, working alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteer teams.
So far, 37 chaplains have been deployed to the five tornado disasters, praying with more than 1,000 people affected by the storms.
“Life will never be the same for thousands of families, and a sense of security they may have had before has been ripped away,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “They need our prayers now more than ever.”
Here’s an update of what is happening in each state:
Florida: Chaplains have responded to the Pensacola area, after a deluge of rain fell, some 21 inches in 23 hours according to one Twitter report by the National Weather Service. It’s being called the worst flooding in 30 years as the flooding reached as high as the door knob on resident’s front door and engulfed the Interstate 10 bridge over Pensacola Bay.
Mississippi: Eight chaplains have been ministering in the small town of Louisville (population 6,600) since April 29. From first responders to homeowners who lost everything, the Rapid Response Team in Louisville has been able to pray with more than 450 people, including one homeowner who just lost her husband two weeks before the twister hit her home. Nine of the deaths from this tornado outbreak were from Winston County, ages ranging from 31 to 85.
Alabama: Six chaplains are providing emotional and spiritual care in Athens, where two confirmed deaths happened just west of town in a mobile home park after the EF3 twister, measuring 165 mph, destroyed many homes in this town of 23,000 people just outside of Huntsville, Ala.
Arkansas: Ministry in both Mayflower and Vilonia continues as homeowners left with little or no homes have been openly sharing their stories. The 10 chaplains deployed have prayed with hundreds in this tornado-ravaged region near Little Rock, Ark. One neighborhood of 56 homes in Vilonia was left with just six homes with any walls still standing. Chaplains are providing a ministry of presence to many homeowners, shortly after they see their destroyed property for the first time.
Kansas: Thirteen chaplains with the Rapid Response Team have deployed to Baxter Springs, where the chaplain have met people where they need a listening ear at the resource center. A 14-year-old and her aunt came were just two of the people looking for help at the resource center and after a meaningful conversation both prayed to accept Jesus.
“We’re told to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.’” Munday said. “At this point there is not a lot of rejoicing, and there is a great amount of mourning through large portions of the United States.”
Please continue to pray for those affected by the storm. You can support the BGEA Rapid Response Team, by clicking below.