Part of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT), the chaplains were in Myanmar for a week, training churches there on how to respond in times of tragedy.
RRT, which worked in Myanmar at the request of local churches and ministries, held three days of training, focusing on understanding grief and trauma from a biblical perspective, pastoral leadership in times of crisis, and how to share the hope of Christ in the midst of tragedy.
They also spent time comforting individuals who have been personally affected by the cyclone.
“The devastation is almost impossible to describe or imagine,” said Jack Munday, RRT director. “And the hearts of the people here are no different than the hearts of those in the United States. They ache for lost loved ones and weep for their children who are missing. It is extremely sad.”
He continued, “Our main goal in the very limited amount of time that we have in this country is to equip the churches to shine the light of hope in these dark days. Long after our small team has left Myanmar, the churches will continue to help the nation heal and move forward.”
International deployments are a relatively new facet of the Rapid Response Team’s outreach. Though chaplains have deployed dozens of times across the United States dating back to 2002, this is only the third time that deployments have occurred outside of U.S. borders. The previous two missions followed a hurricane in Grenada in 2005 and the massive bloodshed in Kenya earlier this year.
“While we tend to focus on our domestic troubles, and certainly it is logistically easier to work inside the United States, it’s important that we remember that tragedy does not discriminate and does not know borders. Around the world people are in despair and in need of hope,” said Munday.
The Myanmar outreach is the 15th deployment of 2008. The Rapid Response Team was developed following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of more than 2,600 chaplains and ministry volunteers who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations.
Please join us in prayer for the thousands upon thousands of victims. Pray that they might be able to join with the Psalmist and say from their hearts: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46: 1-3, NIV).
Pray that in the midst of suffering and tragedy, the people of Myanmar can turn to Him for the comfort and help they need. Times like this will make people react in one of two ways: Either they will become bitter and angry–or they will realize their need of God and turn to Him in faith and trust, even if they don’t understand.
The Bible promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. … Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:2, 4).