Immediately following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, felt a burden to bring hope and peace into our country’s darkest days. A call went out and soon volunteers were traveling to Manhattan to staff the Billy Graham Prayer Center and offer comfort to the rescue workers, survivors, friends and families of the victims, many of whom were carrying around pictures of their loved ones in hopes that they may still be found alive.
“It became apparent that the church had no problem meeting the physical needs of people” says Jack Munday, Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “There was plenty of food, bottled water and shelter being provided. Very few, however, were prepared to appropriately respond to the emotional and spiritual wounds that were ripped open that day.”
Soon the idea of a Rapid Response Team was conceived, a well-organized database of highly trained chaplains who could deploy all across the country in the wake of man-made or natural disasters. Further, the commitment was made to help train Christians and churches so that they would also be able to appropriately respond to tragedies in their own neighborhoods and daily lives.
Since that time, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has developed in size and credibility, emerging as an expected and appreciated presence in times of disaster. The nationwide network has grown to more than 1,700 chaplains in 48 states, including the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, with an international presence in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom; ready to deploy with the hope and love of Christ.
The Billy Graham Prayer center in New York City following the events of September 11, 2001. Soon after, the idea of a Rapid Response Team was conceived.