What remains from Hurricane Harvey? Besides debris, damaged or destroyed homes, and donated supplies—for many there is new hope in Christ. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are ministering and sharing Good News with the people of Texas. Here are a few of their stories:
Chaplains Minister to First Responders
The communities surrounding Aransas Pass and Rockport, Texas, welcomed Billy Graham chaplains after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area. Recognizing the trauma affected not only its residents but also its first responders, city officials embraced the emotional and spiritual care that crisis-trained chaplains could provide.
During the storm, 911 dispatchers fielded frantic calls from many residents who feared for their lives as high winds began tearing apart their homes. Meanwhile, the calls were dispatched to firefighters who, while ready to respond, were instructed not to leave their stations because of high winds and unsafe conditions. As Harvey’s eye passed over the area, firefighters in Rockport made 20 rescues before returning to the firehouse to wait out the rest of the storm. When they could finally leave the station again, they resumed rescuing residents. To help dispatchers, firefighters and other first responders coping with emotional anxiety from their jobs, chaplains held more than 30 Critical Incident Stress Management debriefings. These one-on-one meetings opened the door for chaplains to share the hope of Christ with first responders.
A Day to Praise God
Chaplain Bruce Button needed a part for a Rapid Response Team (RRT) ministry trailer he’d recently pulled to Houston, Texas. While chatting with an employee at an RV store about what brought him to Texas, the conversation turned to a spiritual discussion. After awhile, the woman decided she wanted to accept Christ and prayed with Bruce. The store didn’t carry the part he needed so Bruce visited a second RV store. An employee saw his blue RRT shirt and learned that he drove thousands of miles to minister to strangers. They began to talk about faith and the employee repented of her sins and committed to follow Christ as well.
A short while later at McDonald’s, God did the same thing by opening another spiritual conversation between Bruce and a male employee, who prayed to receive Christ.
Bruce was moved by how God worked through him that day.
“He’s the most soft-spoken, unassuming, easygoing, servant type of guy,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Rapid Response Team.
“There was something they saw in Bruce that God used to trigger an interest in why he was there—what his message was to those who were suffering—that allowed him to share God’s hope with three people that were obviously looking for answers and looking for hope; looking to know what God’s peace is all about,” Munday added.
Pastors and chaplains aren’t the only people who can share hope through the Gospel. The Bible commands all Christians tell others about eternal life in Christ.
“The truth is, every one of us should live that way,” Munday said.
Jesus—the Only Way to the Father
Sometimes God uses several chaplains to stir someone’s heart. In Rockport, three chaplains separately visited a man whose home had survived Harvey’s floodwaters. During their talks, the man acknowledged he didn’t have much of a relationship with God but thought he was OK because he was a good man—a good father who sacrificed to provide for his children. Each chaplain was able to connect with him and share the Gospel, telling him that as sinners, we aren’t good enough to receive God’s forgiveness, but that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. By the third chaplain’s visit, the man wanted to pray to ask for forgiveness and to receive Christ as his personal Savior. Chaplains gave him a “Steps to Peace with God” booklet to help his new walk with Christ and encouraged him to find a Bible-based church.
Finding Assurance Through All of Life’s Storms
In one Houston-area home, Rapid Response Team chaplains visited a family that had three generations living in the same home—a grandfather, his 20-year-old grandson and the young man’s parents. All four talked about their fear of dying in the rising floodwaters and their sadness over the possibility of not seeing each other again. Chaplains shared about the hope of eternity through Christ and explained God’s plan of salvation. All four decided they wanted this assurance and prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Are you sure where you’ll spend eternity? Be sure today.