Rapid Response Team Offering Comfort to Tornado-Ravaged South

By David Morrison   •   April 16, 2020

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is serving alongside Samaritan's Purse in the aftermath of a catastrophic storm that triggered dozens of tornadoes in the Southeast Easter weekend, killing more than 30 people. They're offering emotional and spiritual care in four states: Louisiana (pictured here), Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina.
On Monday, April 13, two of the RRT's Mobile Ministry Centers—sometimes referred to as "prayer trucks on wheels"—left Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to minister in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Seneca, South Carolina.
Other crisis-trained chaplains made their way to West Monroe, Louisiana (pictured here), and Laurel, Mississippi, to offer comfort and a listening ear to devastated communities. More than 1.2 million people lost power from the intense storms, and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed from the storms' side effects—twisters, large hail, high winds and flash flooding.
All Billy Graham chaplains and Samaritan's Purse volunteers go through an orientation course before heading to work sites. The two ministries are strictly adhering to CDC guidelines involving COVID-19. Both organizations are helping fight the pandemic by offering care at emergency field hospitals set up in New York City's Central Park and northern Italy. If you'd like to talk or pray with someone in regard to COVID-19, call our prayer line at 888-388-2683.
During a time when so many have been asking questions about faith, chaplains are talking with homeowners as Samaritan's Purse volunteers show the love of Christ by helping clear debris. >> Do you have hope in the midst of crisis? Trust God today.
West Monroe residents are grappling with the effects of having to consecutively recover and "stay inside" when there are no longer roofs on their homes. Their state of Louisiana is one of few to have already surpassed 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19. “I think even on these natural disaster deployments, what’s happened [with COVID-19] in the last month or so, has really sparked a new zeal, passion and urgency in these days to share the reason for the hope that we have with gentleness and respect,” said RRT's Assistant Director Josh Holland.
On Wednesday, Billy Graham chaplains spent time with recovering homeowners and supported Samaritan's Purse as they presented a Bible to a family who survived the storm. A large tree fell just behind the family's home—and if it had fallen at a slightly different angle, would've hit the father in a back room.
"Homes that had stood for decades were moved off their foundations, reduced to splinters and piles of debris in a matter of minutes," President of BGEA and Samaritan's Purse Franklin Graham shared on Facebook. "Join us in praying for the many who have lost homes and possessions—and especially for those who are grieving lost loved ones, that they would feel God’s comfort and presence during this very difficult time."