A Mid-Year Look at the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team

By   •   July 23, 2019

With 19 deployments so far in 2019, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has ministered to more than 27,000 people in 16 states.

When there’s a storm brewing, bread and milk fly off the shelves. The weather announcer’s voice booms on televisions across town. People sit in line for hours on the highway trying to escape the oncoming hurricane or storm.

All the while, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team monitors the situation, praying to the Lord for help and knowing there’s only One place of refuge.

Every year, thousands of people lose loved ones or homes in man-made crises and natural disasters. With a growing network of 1,500-plus crisis-trained chaplains located across the country, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) exists to share the love and compassion of Christ during some of the nation’s darkest days.

With 19 deployments so far this year, chaplains have witnessed the power of an Almighty God through tears and more than 27,000 prayerful conversations. The following are three short stories of how God has been working in the midst of hurting communities:

Jefferson City, Missouri

In May, a couple and four children were watching television in their second story apartment when their lives felt nothing short of a movie. An EF-3 tornado swirled around their complex, completely ripping off the roof with its 160 mile-per-hour winds in Missouri’s state capital. Several homes and businesses were damaged, and nearly two dozen people were injured by the twister.

Amazingly unharmed, the family went to find shelter and met Billy Graham chaplains. The crisis-trained chaplains listened to the couple’s story, shared words of encouragement and asked if they knew where they would spend eternity.

The couple wasn’t sure where the whirlwind would have taken them if they hadn’t made it through the storm.

Over the next few minutes, the chaplains told them about the saving grace of Jesus, and in response, the couple desired to have salvation in Him. Alongside the chaplains, they prayed for forgiveness and asked the Lord to give them faith. Before leaving, the chaplains checked to see if the family knew where to receive disaster aid and presented them with a Billy Graham Bible.

Chaplains recognize prayer is a tool that is more powerful than any storm.

Mooresville, North Carolina

Earlier this year, a police officer was fatally shot at a traffic stop in Mooresville, North Carolina, leaving the close-knit community stunned and devastated. Billy Graham chaplains deployed to the area—just 30 minutes north of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) headquarters—to pray and comfort command staff, line officers, the fire department and emergency management teams.

In addition, the chaplains manned the Mobile Ministry Center (MMC), a vehicle that’s set up as a safe haven for the community, near the police station. Timothy*, a 21-year-old student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, happened to stop by the MMC. The graduating senior had just faced an additional shooting at his university, where two students were killed and another four were injured. It left him in a state of anger and uncertainty regarding his eternal future.

Chaplain Richard Brown began talking with him, and Timothy admitted he didn’t have a relationship with God. After hearing the Gospel, Timothy openly shared his desire to place his hope in Jesus. He prayed with the chaplain and received a Bible to help begin his walk with the Lord.

“You never know what God is doing,” Brown said. “Something that can be bad, He brings good out of it. The tragedy at UNCC, the tragedy here—but souls are coming to Christ because of it that may not have otherwise.”

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Chad Stillman, a former law enforcement officer and current manager of law enforcement relations for the Rapid Response Team,  prays with a man during a memorial service in Mooresville, North Carolina. Since deploying to Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has responded 15 times to police-involved shootings and/or related civil unrest. The RRT has 229 crisis-trained individuals in its strategic chaplain ministry.

Dodge County, Nebraska

After a flood swept through hundreds of homes in Dodge County, Nebraska, this spring, Billy Graham chaplains deployed alongside Samaritan’s Purse to care for hurting homeowners.

They went from from house to house to serve those affected, knocking on each door with anticipation to share the love of God. At one home, chaplains came across a mother and son, but quickly found that only the son spoke English. After sharing the Good News with him, the son indicated that he wanted make Jesus the Lord of his life and prayed to receive Him.

Desiring for his family to receive Jesus, the young man requested a Spanish version of the Gospel booklet “Steps to Peace with God.” He wanted to lead his father to Christ when he came home!

>> Watch an emotional survival story from one Nebraskan couple.

The chaplains prayed they would be a source of encouragement and peace after a March storm swept through the Midwest.

Do you trust Jesus in the wake of disaster? Start a relationship with Him today.