2023 at a Glance: Comforting the Hurting With God’s Love

By   •   December 19, 2023

Georgia Tornadoes (Jan. 12): Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains responded in Selma, Ala., and Griffin, Ga., after multiple tornadoes ripped through the South—killing nine people. It was the first of many times in 2023 that chaplains offered emotional and spiritual care after a disaster, pointing locals to the lasting peace that comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. “[In 2023], our BG-RRT provided emotional and spiritual support in over 60 locations all across the globe,” said the ministry’s International Director Josh Holland. “In the midst of tragedy, God has used our BG-RRT to comfort and pray with over 42,000 people—with over 1,300 making a commitment to Christ [this year].”
Mississippi Tornado (March 24): Franklin Graham joined chaplains in Rolling Fork and Silver City, Miss., to talk with residents picking up the pieces after a storm system killed at least 20 people. “I went to where a mobile home park had been last week, but now there is nothing left, just mounds of twisted metal and debris. It just breaks your heart,” Franklin Graham said. “We want [people] to know that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1, ESV).” You can help the hurting find hope in Jesus Christ by serving with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
Nashville School Shooting (March 27): Tragedy unfolded at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., when a 28-year-old woman gunned down three students and three adults before she was killed by police. All three children who died were 9 years old. Chaplains arrived on-site the evening of the shooting to minister to those in mourning. Over the course of several days, they prayed with hundreds of people coping with fear, anger, and grief.
Indiana Tornado (March 31): Chaplains spoke with a woman who survived the tornado that ripped through her small, tight-knit community in Sullivan County, Ind. They listened as she shared her harrowing experience riding out the powerful winds. Will you help the hurting find refuge in Jesus by supporting the BG-RRT?
Texas Tornado (June 15): Perryton, Texas, residents faced grief and shock after an EF-3 tornado killed three people and left a trail of splintered buildings across the city. Here, BG-RRT chaplains pray with a family affected by the tornado. A young girl holds a Billy Graham Training Center Bible she received to help her grow in her faith.
New York Flooding (July 9): Painful experiences often open a person’s heart to hear about eternal truths from God’s Word. Above, chaplains read “Steps to Peace with God”—a short pamphlet about how to have a relationship with God—with a resident of Highland Falls, N.Y. Her neighborhood was one of many in the northeast that experienced deadly flooding from torrential thunderstorms.
Vermont Flooding (July 9–11): Chaplains prayed with a man in Barre, Vt., where severe flooding left behind miles of devastation. They told those struggling with the flood’s catastrophic effects how they can put their trust in God and look to Him for peace and refuge in any trial. “As believers in Jesus Christ, we know we live in a broken, fallen world, but it’s also not our home—Heaven is,” said BG-RRT International Director Josh Holland. “There is hope, and we are so thankful for all of our crisis-trained chaplains who are helping share this truth with people and communities [who are] grieving.”
Maui Wildfire (Aug. 8): Thousands of lives were turned upside down in an instant as a wildfire—one of the deadliest in U.S. history—took many Hawaiians by surprise. Some ran into the ocean to survive. Strong winds from Hurricane Dora 800 miles to the south caused flames to spread quickly on the island, claiming over 90 lives and destroying the beach town of Lahaina. The BG-RRT served in Maui, providing emotional and spiritual care as islanders were grappling with losing loved ones, homes, and jobs.
Maui Wildfire (Aug. 8): Franklin Graham prayed with 81-year-old Arza Brown, who has pastored Grace Baptist Church in Lahaina for 50 years. The church was destroyed in the fire. The Sunday following the wildfires, church members met in a coffee shop to come together and worship God. Franklin Graham visited the site where the church once stood.
Hurricane Idalia Damages Southeast (Aug. 30): Category 4 Hurricane Idalia caused significant damage along Florida’s Big Bend region and up into Georgia. Floridians worked long hours in the heat and humidity to repair damaged buildings, salvage wet belongings, and remove pine and live oak trees knocked down in the storm. Will Graham joined chaplains—along with disaster relief volunteers—in serving residents in Jesus’ Name.
Hurricane Otis Hits Mexico (Oct. 25): The people of Acapulco, Mexico, were caught off guard when a tropical storm turned into a destructive Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours. More than 40 people died and dozens went missing. With thousands of homes destroyed, many people are homeless and living in their yards, with no electricity or running water. Spanish-speaking chaplains are there sharing about the Light that overcomes all darkness—Jesus Christ.
Maine Mass Shooting (Oct. 25): The BG-RRT ministered in Lewiston, Maine, after a gunman murdered 18 people. Chaplains Yvonne and Tim Denmark (above) pray for Leroy Walker Sr. after his son was killed in the mass shooting. “While our hearts break over the tragedies that have happened, we have watched God move as people desperately search for hope,” said Josh Holland. “We know that the only answer for that hope and true peace … is in Jesus.”