‘Openness to Gospel’ Marks Sandy Deployment

By   •   January 29, 2013

Hurricane Sandy seems like a distant memory to most of the country.

After all, it’s been three full months now since the “Superstorm” tore through countless coastal towns up the New Jersey and New York coast.

But to those still trying to rebuild, the memory of floodwaters rising in a matter of minutes is still very real. 

In many cases, they’ve lost everything. And in some cases, they’re still emotionally and spiritually reeling. 

But through it all nearly 10,000 people have been ministered to by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. More than 200 crisis-trained chaplains were honored to listen, comfort and pray one-on-one with more than 9,500 Sandy survivors since October 29.

“It was phenomenal (ministry),” Rapid Response Team director Jack Munday said. “The openness to the Gospel was evident at each of the deployment sites.”

Chaplains were deployed in four New Jersey counties — Atlantic, Bergen, Monmouth and Ocean, which recently closed — as well as Nassau County in New York, which is scheduled to continue through Feb. 8.

“The interest to engage with the ministry of Rapid Response Team was encouraging,” Munday said. “The Holy Spirit was moving in the lives of people.

“When I was in Bergen County one day from 9 a.m. to noon, there were four of us who prayed with 35 people at one trailer park and four decisions were made for Christ.  They would see the blue shirts and just come up and ask for prayer.”

Hurricane Sandy was a moving natural disaster for many crisis-trained chaplains, partly because of the proximity. Very few deployments have happened in the northeast, where so many trained chaplains reside.

Within the first 24 hours after the storm hit, more than 130 chaplains — from the BGEA’s network of more than 1,000 nationwide — responded with interest to deploy to N.J., most residing on the East Coast.  

And a majority of the 200-plus chaplains who deployed were ministering for the first time with the Rapid Response Team. One of the factors in such a high level of response was the “scope and intensity of the tragedy.” 

“They just felt compelled to respond,” Munday said. “They had been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to minister.” 

The five Sandy deployments — along with the tragic Newtown school shooting in December — ended one of the busiest Rapid Response Team years since the ministry began in 2002. 

For the year, 31 deployments happened in 2012, including four events that origianlly occurred in 2011 (Japan earthquake, Bastrop, Texas fires, Joplin, Tuscaloosa tornadoes). Here’s the complete 2012 list.

2012 Deployments

Japan – Cont’d from 2011

Hickory, N.C. – Tornado

Trussville, Ala. – Tornado

Harrisburg, Ill. – Tornado

Madison, Ind. – Tornado

Henryville, Ind. – Tornado

West Liberty, Ky. – Tornado

Charlotte, N.C. – Tornado

Arlington, Texas – Tornado

Lancaster, Texas – Tornado

Bastrop, Texas – 2011 Fires (Follow-up)

Ruidoso, N.M. – Fires

Ft. Collins, Colo. – Fires

Moose Lake, Minn. – Flooding

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Fires

Crawfordville, Fla. – Flooding

Joplin, Mo. – Tornado/Rebuild

Aurora, Colo. – Shooting

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Tornado/Rebuild

Olive, Okla. – Fires

Jonesborough, Tenn. – Flooding

St. Bernard/Plaquemines Parrish, La.–Hurricane

LaCombe, La. – Hurricane

LaPlace, La. – Hurricane

Clayton, N.J. – Murder

Atlantic County, N.J. – Hurricane

Bergen County, N.J. – Hurricane

Ocean County, N.J. – Hurricane

Nassau County, N.Y. – Hurricane

Monmouth County, N.J. – Hurricane

Newtown, Conn. – Shooting

Interested in becoming a Rapid Response Team chaplain? Check out our website to find out more information about training classes