As the people of Roseburg, Oregon, face shock and grief over Thursday’s deadly campus shooting at Umpqua Community College, crisis-trained chaplains are on the ground to offer emotional and spiritual care.
“We anticipate the trauma to be just tremendous throughout the whole community,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a nationwide network of chaplains that ministers to people in the wake of disasters from shootings to hurricanes.
“It’s only a community of 21,000 people,” Munday said. “Being a community college, I would anticipate a lot of the students are local to the area. So its overwhelming to say the least, and we’re there to support and help any way we can.”
The Rapid Response Team sent two chaplains within hours of the shooting—one from Denver and one from Charlotte. Both have law enforcement backgrounds and planned to meet with local authorities on Friday. More crisis-trained chaplains arrived over the weekend.
Munday and the entire chaplain network are praying for the people of Roseburg and everyone who is suffering in the wake of the shooting.
“Our prayer is certainly for the immediate families who are experiencing this loss,” Munday said. “And when we have something like 20 injured, we pray for their families as well. We assume there’s potentially surgery happening, and they’re attempting to save those lives that survived the initial shooting.
“We’re praying for the entire community … including the faculty and students of the school and the first responders.”
Munday acknowledged tragedies like the one in Roseburg tend to bring spiritual questions to the forefront. If God is real, why doesn’t He stop shootings before they happen? And if He is good, why does He allow people to suffer?
“We serve a God who is loving and compassionate and caring, but He has also given us free will,” Munday said. “Individually, we have choices we can make. He didn’t create robots; he created people with a free will. And we live in a fallen world, and unfortunately bad things happen.”
But while some may use their free will to harm others, Munday said, God is always there for those who seek Him.
“We’re thankful that this loving God we’re talking about is the one who comes alongside and brings that peace, compassion and that hope and comfort people are desperately looking for,” he continued.
“And that’s the hope that we have through prayer, that He’ll answer those prayers and be a source for them when no one else can meet that need.”