The crisis chaplaincy program of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has offered hope and comfort in 30 different locations this year. During the course of 2008, 433 chaplains have prayed with more than 17,000 people.
“The number of tornadoes in the first half of 2008 was nearly unprecedented,” said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “We deployed to 10 locations just to bring hope in the wake of tornadic activity. We also ministered in eight different sites following the devastation of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.”
Along with the tornadoes and hurricanes, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team responded to flooding in Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa; the Valentine’s Day shooting at Northern Illinois University; and the November wildfires in Southern California.
In addition to domestic deployments, Munday led small teams into Myanmar, Kenya and Grand Turk Island to train local pastors on how to appropriately respond during the tragedies and disasters that devastated the people of those areas.
“We’ve seen so much pain and heart-rending agony this year, but we’ve also seen hope and resilience in the eyes of people who are in the darkest days of their lives,” said Munday. “We’ve witnessed the triumphs of neighbors joining together in love to confront their worst fears, and we’ve prayed with people who have wept in thanks for the blessings they have when everything else has been taken from them.”
In November, Munday was able to share with several governmental groups and other agencies when he addressed the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith Based and Community Initiatives Emergency Preparedness Workshop in Dallas, Texas. “It was a real honor to be invited, and I believe it points to the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team increasingly becoming a welcome and relied upon presence during times of tragedy,” said Munday.
Along with the domestic and international deployments, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team also held 15 special crisis ministry seminars to help train Christians on how to deal with the tragedies affecting those around them. “Not all of us will respond to a Hurricane Katrina or a 9/11,” said Munday. “But all of us will deal with somebody who has lost a loved one from cancer, or has lost their job and their home, or is going through a divorce. Pain is everywhere, and it’s important for Christians to be prepared to respond with the love and hope of Christ.”
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is a nationwide database of more than 3,000 chaplains and ministry volunteers who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. Since the ministry was launched in 2002, it has deployed following dozens of natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and shootings.
CHECK OUT THIS GREAT OVERVIEW OF THE RAPID RESPONSE TEAM: