‘They Wanted Christ’: Billy Graham Chaplain on How God Worked in Hearts of West Virginians

By   •   August 23, 2017

Male and female chaplains listen to flood victim
Billy Graham chaplains listened and ministered to several hundred people in northern West Virginia in early August after extensive flooding disrupted people's lives.

Mud and mold may have left its mark on nearly 400 northern West Virginia homes after a recent flash flood, but Christ left a bigger impact on many hearts.

During a deployment to Marshall County, West Virginia, in early August, a group of 16 crisis-trained chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) spoke and prayed with more than 300 people over the course of a week-and-a-half. More than 40 of those people made decisions to accept Christ.

The volunteer chaplains shared emotional and spiritual care with hurting people in the hills and valleys of the region. In late July, four to five inches of rain poured down a steep hillside, flooding their homes and basements.

Leo and Barb Grabowski led the group of chaplains. Leo’s voice cracked as he described what he calls “a movement of God” in Marshall County.

“People were desperate for something” Leo said. “They wanted Christ, and they got Him.”

He believes the eagerness of so many to accept Christ is a sign of revival.

“God’s got a plan for that county,” Leo said. “He has taken the people of Marshall County and called, appointed and chosen them to lead people to Christ, and to make disciples of Christ.”

Manager standing in front of people seated at tables
Ken Dunlap, manager of RRT’s deployment response and support, leads discipleship training for church volunteers in Moundsville, West Virginia, These men and women will help those who came to Christ during the ministry’s deployment in early August.

The RRT recently returned to Moundsville, West Virginia, to help train church members how to effectively disciple their new brothers and sisters in the faith.

“The key is to teach people how to follow Christ,” said Scott Holmquist, manager of communications and special projects for the RRT. “Helping them to understand their position in Christ, understanding how to pray, how to read the Bible—the foundations of growing in Christ.”

Earlier this month, one woman in the midst of a personal storm found her identity in Jesus.

A crack addict, she had lost much of her hair after a nervous breakdown, and admitted to chaplains that she was looking for God and peace in dark places—numbers, dreams and the occult.

After crisis-trained chaplains shared how to find true peace and light through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, she repented and asked Him to be her Savior.

“We tell them the truth,” said Leo. After people accept Christ, he said, the chaplains tell them, “You have Jesus Christ living in you. You have God living in you.”

For Leo, a retired police officer, ministering to West Virginians was exciting. “Marshall County had the thumbprint of  God,” he said. “People couldn’t wait to know God.”

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is an international ministry of crisis-trained chaplains ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to natural and man-made disasters. Since its inception in the wake of 9/11, hundreds of chaplains have had the honor of praying with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, all in the Name of Jesus.

Do you want to truly know God? Take this step now.

Help send crisis-trained chaplains to share God’s love when tragedy strikes. 

Chaplain talks with local outside the Mobile Ministry Center
Chaplain coordinator Leo Grabowski talks with a local resident outside the Mobile Ministry Center in Marshall County, West Virginia.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published but you will receive our next BGEA ministry update. You can opt out of future emails at any time.


  1. Ione weiss says:

    My prayers go with your RRT Team. To bless each one of you and those to come.

  2. Don Newman says:

    Praise the Lord! For this wonderful Rapid Response Team from the BGEA. My prayers go out to all of them. My heart is touched by the Spirit after reading the story about the flood in West Virginia.