Chaplains Respond to New Zealand Following Fatal Mosque Shootings

By   •   March 15, 2019

New Zealand shooting memorial
A makeshift memorial in Christchurch, New Zealand, commemorates victims of the March 16 shootings at two local mosques. (Photo courtesy of Associated Press) 

Fifty people died after a gunman opened fire at two mosques Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand. More than 40 others were wounded during the shootings.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains based in Australia and New Zealand are responding to Christchurch with a ministry of presence, offering comfort for those suffering throughout the community.

New Zealand mosque shooting
Police attempt to clear people from outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Associated Press)

“We grieve and are heartbroken for the dozens of murdered and wounded in the senseless and horrific terror attack on the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT. “Many will carry the pain and trauma of this day for the rest of their lives. Please join us in praying for all of those who have been impacted by this evil and violent act.”

Five chaplains from Australia and New Zealand are in the Christchurch region offering emotional care and support to the hurting community. In addition to providing a ministry of presence at the memorial site, they’ve stood alongside grieving families and friends at a prayer vigil. Upon request, the team has been also ministering by speaking in churches and supporting family members of the wounded at a local hospital.

“Pray for the 49-plus heartbroken families who lost loved ones in the horrific attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand,” Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook. “I’m thankful that the gunman was apprehended and will be held responsible for his actions.”

The shootings come less than six months after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were killed. Crisis-trained RRT chaplains responded in the wake of that tragedy to support and comfort stunned community members.

The Australian Rapid Response Team is also ministering in Queensland after the historic Townsville flooding, which has caused major damage since early February.