Chaplains Minister as Fires Burn in Southern California

By   •   December 27, 2017

Paul and Erica Mattesich lost their house when the Thomas fire tore through their neighborhood in Ventura, California. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are in the area to offer emotional and spiritual care to those who have lost homes, pets or possessions because of the massive wildfires burning throughout Southern California.

Chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) deployed to California after the state’s most recent outbreak of wildfires. On December 4, flames and smoke began engulfing large parts of cities in Southern California, including Ventura and Los Angeles.

The largest blaze—dubbed the Thomas fire—spread with devastating speed, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee as more than a thousand buildings have burned to the ground.

“This wildfire season has already been so heartbreaking for the many who have been affected, and now California is dealing with yet another deadly and destructive inferno,” said Jack Munday, international director of the 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.”

As firefighters battled the massive blaze, a team of 17 chaplains ministered in shelters and communities within Ventura County.

They’ve been warmly welcomed by area residents. In one case, a driver pulled alongside chaplains at a stoplight, rolled down his window and said, “Thank you Billy Graham people for being here. I love Billy Graham.” Before the light changed, chaplains had time to pray with the driver.

Firefighters have also expressed their gratitude for a chance to decompress a bit and pray with chaplains at the RRT’s Mobile Ministry Center, which was set up at an area command post.

Crisis-trained chaplains worked alongside local churches, and in cooperation with local authorities. At last check, they had prayed with more than 900 people.

Over the past four months, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has ministered after tragedies in six states from coast to coast, most recently in Sutherland Springs, Texas, following the horrific church shooting last month. They also deployed after the truck attack in New York City (October), the Las Vegas concert massacre (October), the deadly wildfires in Santa Rosa, California (October), and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (August and September).

Please join the chaplains in praying for so many people who are suffering.

California wildfire December 2017

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    It is as if God is removing things that have captured people’s attention, making it hard for them to see God. It is the same idea when there are hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, cyclones and fires. Then as we huddle together with nothing else to hold onto, we begin to feel the God who is giving us a second chance to appreciate Him. We begin to notice our neighbors. For suffering not only draws us together, but also draws us nearer to God.

  2. Art R Zimmer says:

    We who have not been there cannot at all feel the deep distress those folks are in. May the chaplains lead them to the hope in Christ, “which hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (Hebrews 6:19)

  3. Jackie says:

    Father, I thank you for these wonderful chaplains that are you hands and feet and comfort to these scared and shocked people who have lost all. Give these dear chaplains, Lord, opportunities and the words of hope, help, comfort and Your great love to these broken ones. I pray Lord that You would guide, provide and restore all that has been lost just like you did for Job. I pray Isaiah 41:10 over these fire-ravaged people.
    “So not fear for I am the Lord you God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.

  4. B A Olds says:

    I pray in the name of Jesus Christ that God answers the prayers of those who are the victims of this tragedy. Bring peace and comfort to each and everyone involved. And I thank God for all the first responders.

  5. Alicia Kerns says:

    Material things may be gone but thank God the people aren’t. God will help them replace everything.

  6. Pam Konopa says:

    Lord, we pray for all those suffering from all the horrific happenings in the world right now. We pray for a Holy Spirit movement throughout the world for all people so that they can see the need for Jesus in their lives. We pray for comfort for all the people who have had to be victims of these trrible tragedies. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

  7. Jean Mabe says:

    These people may lose their homes here, but they will never lose their Lord God. He is always with them. Amen.

  8. Sandi says:

    I pray that those affected by these fires, will turn to God for peace and comfort.

  9. Deborah Euell says:

    Thank God for the foresight of Franklin Graham to start this ministry.

  10. Christine Avalos says:

    Thank you Lord for the healing of all situations. Thanking our chaplains for their support and love for one another. Thank you Franklin Graham. Love you Lord Jesus.