CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017 – The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has deployed crisis-trained chaplains to California as the Thomas wildfire in Ventura County continues to grow, spreading with frightening speed. According to news reports, the blaze – which began on Monday night, Dec. 4 – has grown to over 132,000 acres, fed by strong Santa Ana winds. The fire has already caused untold property damage and has forced tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.
“This wildfire season has already been so heartbreaking for the many who have been affected, and now California is dealing with several more deadly and destructive infernos,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Many will be in evacuation shelters, looking for some small shred of hope but fearing the worst. Others will find that everything they’ve worked for has been reduced to ash. In the midst of it all, our chaplains will share the comfort and peace of Jesus to those who are hurting.”
Initial efforts will include ministry in shelters and alongside churches in the impacted areas. In addition to the Thomas fire, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is monitoring the other Southern California wildfires with a plan to respond if needed.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team recently completed its efforts in Texas and Florida following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Combined, 451 chaplains ministered across multiple devastated communities in the two states, praying with and comforting more than 31,000 people. The organization also sent 35 chaplains to California to assist with recovery following the Santa Rosa wildfire. Additionally, chaplains offered emotional and spiritual care following the deadly attacks in Las Vegas, Nev., New York City and Sutherland Springs, Texas.
For more information on the ministry, including videos, photos, news articles and an interactive map of former and current deployments, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt. Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/RRTChaplains.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team:
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It has since grown into an international network of chaplains in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 270 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes.