Not everything is fun and games at the Winter Olympics. You never know what crises could occur: “Someone could have a heart attack, children may be lost – wherever there’s an instance that could cause trauma, that’s what we’re trained and geared to come alongside of,” says Jack Munday, director of the Rapid Response Team (RRT).
The ministry has been asked to provide chaplains in the Vancouver area during the Olympics, to assist in incidents where people would need some help and guidance. And, obviously, to share the good news of Christ if given the opportunity.
“When you have hundreds of thousands of people coming into any city, regardless of the event, you’re going to have situations,” Munday says. “We’ll be working in cooperation with the first responders of the area so that we’ll be aware of where people should be.”
While the Rapid Response Team usually works in response to natural or man-made disasters, this situation is different, “but the mission is the same,” says Munday.
For example, a husband may have a heart attack, and the EMS would be on the scene taking this person to the hospital. “They would want our chaplains to be there with, say, the wife in the waiting area, to provide comfort – God’s comfort and God’s hope,” Munday explains. “To be there to pray with that individual. There’s a good possibility they don’t have any family in the area, so our role is to come alongside and be the emotional and spiritual caregiver.”
Melanie Neufeld, Manager of the Rapid Response Team for BGEA Canada, agrees: “If anything was to happen crisis- or disaster-wise within the activities that we would be present at, they would be able to respond and provide that listening ear and that expertise they can bring to the plate.”
Being prepared to share the hope that’s within you with gentleness and respect is the backbone of the Rapid Response Team ministry. “And when people are fragile, when they’re very emotionally lean,” says Munday. “It’s a very delicate approach to ministry, yet a very effective approach to ministry.”
There will be lots of work to do at the Winter Olympics, but the Rapid Response Team is already looking toward and planning for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. They’re working with the Christian group More Than Gold.
“We’ve already been in dialogue and conversation with More Than Gold in London, and so we’re grateful that the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has been positioned by the Lord to be involved in these dialogues and these opportunities,” says Munday.
And as the Winter Olympics continue, Melanie Neufeld, in Vancouver, sees and appreciates the opportunity for ministry. “If God is moving, in crisis and non-crisis settings, we just want to make ourselves available to see what He wants to do in these times. So we’re very excited!”