Crisis-trained chaplains arrived last week in Linton, North Dakota, in response to the devastating floods that have crippled much of the state. They will remain on site until at least April 18.
The team deployed in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Together, the two groups are meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those who have been affected by the floods.
“As the flood waters recede, the flood of despair and painful memories rise,” said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “In a tight-knit community like this, everybody is affected. We are there to help them as they work through this very difficult time.”
Two of the RRT chaplains visited a church that has eight family members who lost their homes. Both the pastor and his wife both seem to be overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. “I saw a lady cry through most of the service,” writes one of the chaplains, “and I went over to her afterward and asked if she had lost her home. She said, ‘No, I’m just a weepy willow.’ Then I found out she was the pastor’s wife. We told them we would be happy to visit the families who have lost their homes or anyone else that needed a visit.”
Chaplains also had the privilege of bringing hope and healing to one couple by simply being there as victims cleaned the flooded remains of their homes.
“We approached an elderly man to tell him why we were there, and he asked if we would visit his wife, who was depressed. So, we followed him to the apartment where they were staying. Throughout the visit, she smiled and laughed,” reported one chaplain.
“As we were leaving, the man hugged us, with with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘she has not smiled since before the storm. Thank you so much for coming and showing us that someone cares.’”
Another chaplain shared this report: “This community is made up of many Russian/German descendants. They are very hard workers, mostly farmers, and hate to ask for a hand out. The area that was flooded is in the poorer section of this very small, close knit town. Our visits have been well received and it’s such a blessing to help others that have worked so hard all their lives for what little they have.”
While the ministries are in Linton, they will continue to assess the needs in areas along the Red River and offer assistance to additional communities where people may need help in the coming weeks.
“We’re so thankful that the Red River’s crest brought less damage and flooding than anticipated,” said Munday. “We will, however, continue to monitor the coming storms and the potential for a second crest.”
This deployment is the third in recent weeks for the crisis-chaplain ministry. Other recent deployments include Oakland, Calif., where four police officers were killed, and Carthage, N.C., following the murder of seven residents and a nurse at Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was developed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is a nationwide network of more than 3,000 chaplains who are specially trained to appropriately offer emotional and spiritual care during crisis situations.