Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have deployed to Manchester, England, to work alongside local churches as they minister to a grieving community.
On May 22, a deadly explosion happened at the Manchester Arena just as a concert was ending. Children are among the 22 people who have died. More than 50 others were injured in the incident, which officials are calling a terrorist attack.
“We continue to see the world unravel in many different areas,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Rapid Response Team. “Every day on the news, an incident like this just reminds us that there’s great opportunity to share Christ knowing that He is the One and the only One we can depend on. He is the certainty in times of uncertainty, and He never changes.”
Nigel Fawcett-Jones is heading up the team of chaplains from the United Kingdom and the United States that will be offering emotional and spiritual care in the aftermath of the tragedy. The chaplains, in support of local churches, attended a vigil on Tuesday evening in Albert Square, a little less than a mile’s walk from where the tragedy occurred.
“Often at times like this, we have a ministry of presence, just being with people, just letting them know we’re standing with them and supporting them,” Fawcett-Jones said. “My personal view is that Jesus is relevant to every situation, and the Gospel tells us that we are expected to respond and support those in need.”
Sometimes that means outright sharing the Good News of Jesus. Other times it means just listening as a father talks through sobs about his missing daughter. That’s what one BGEA UK team member learned early Tuesday morning as he went to locate his own missing family member.
“It was chaos,” Lee Searle wrote about the scene at the hospital in Manchester. “There were some awful shrapnel wounds. It was absolutely heartbreaking. Mothers crying, fathers with heads in hands.”
Amidst the heartbreak, Searle noticed a common sentiment: “I saw lots of tears and distress, but I saw absolutely no anger. I saw love. I saw hurting people helping others, and I saw the best of humanity.”
Searle, fortunately reunited with his family member, was moved with compassion when he walked outside and saw a father grieving. He sat down and listened to his story. During the conversation they prayed, but the focus was on this man’s broken heart.
The team of chaplains is asking for prayers for this man and so many others who are suffering in the aftermath of the bombing.
“Pray for all those families that have been affected by this, whether they’ve lost loved ones or they’re still trying to find family members,” Fawcett-Jones said. “Pray for them that they would have the comfort and reassurance that they are being prayed for and supported.”
Additionally, please keep the following needs in mind as you pray for Manchester:
—First responders, hospital staff and all dealing with the tragic aftermath. These individuals will have gut-wrenching jobs like identifying the deceased and communicating with family members. They need your prayers.
—The local churches as they identify ways to minister to their communities. This tragedy likely will have a long-lasting impact.