Rapid Response Team Deploys to Binghamton, NY

By   •   April 3, 2009

“In 2007 I spent several days preaching the Gospel in Binghamton and met many families and students, city officials and church leaders. A common question I’m often asked in the wake of tragedy is, ‘Where is God in times of trouble?’ The answer is found in the Bible that says the Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth.

“My hope, in the aftermath of this tragedy, is that the people of Binghamton will turn their hearts to the God of all comfort who is near to all who call on His name,” Graham said.

April 3, 2009– The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains is deploying today to Binghamton, N.Y., following breaking news reports that a gunman has taken over an immigration center there and is holding several dozen hostages.

Media updates indicate that there may be as many as 13 casualties, with more than 40 injured.

Chaplain coordinators are on their way to help guide the effort, and trained chaplains are being brought in to work with those who have been affected by today’s tragedy.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT), a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was developed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is a nationwide network of more than 3,000 chaplains who are specially trained to appropriately offer emotional and spiritual care during crisis situations.

“Words cannot express the profound sadness that this tragedy has caused,” said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “A senseless act of extreme violence has left an entire city in despair. We will have a ‘ministry of presence’ in Binghamton as we’ll be there to listen to and cry with those people whose lives were changed forever today.”

This is the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s second deployment to Binghamton. The first deployment took place following devastating flooding in 2006. BGEA also held a Franklin Graham Festival in Binghamton in 2007.

New York Gov. David Paterson issued a statement saying it is “a tragic day for New York.” He has directed state police to assist the Binghamton Police Department. “I speak for all of New York when I offer my prayers for the victims and families of this tragedy,” Paterson said.

This deployment is the fourth in the past week for the crisis-chaplain ministry. Last week chaplains responded to the killing of four police officers in Oakland, Calif., and most recently chaplains deployed to Carthage, N.C., following the murder of seven residents and a nurse at the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home on Sunday.

Chaplains will arrive today in North Dakota in response to historic flooding.

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