Two Ministries, One Heart: Samaritan’s Purse Volunteer Adds Role as Billy Graham Chaplain

By   •   April 29, 2019

This was a common sight at the Sharing Hope in Jesus' Name conference, where disaster relief volunteers gathered for training organized by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and Samaritan's Purse. Many of these volunteers had been on past deployments together, but this was their first time uniting in a light-hearted moment instead of the pit of disaster.

On April 24-28, the Sharing Hope in Jesus’ Name conference was hosted by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) and Samaritan’s Purse. Disaster relief volunteers had the opportunity to take a variety of classes, with topics ranging from first aid to stress management. While Samaritan’s Purse volunteers focus on the physical needs of homeowners in disaster and Billy Graham chaplains offer emotional and spiritual care to hurting communities, some people have started to serve in both capacities.

Two massive hurricanes and a tornado later, Janet Granski found herself at the Sharing Hope in Jesus’ Name conference in Orlando, Florida.

The four-day seminar was the first conference of its kind, combining training for both the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) and Samaritan’s Purse—a perfect blend for Granski.

For the past two years, she’s served as a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer, donning the organization’s iconic orange shirt and deploying to devastated areas across the Southeast. She cleaned debris in yard after yard following hurricanes Michael and Irma, and she recently deployed after the fatal tornado in Alabama.

Now, she feels the Lord is leading her to serve in another avenue of ministry—as a blue-shirted Billy Graham chaplain.

>> Want to become a Billy Graham RRT chaplain? Start here.

“I know you can minister to people just as much in an orange shirt as a blue shirt,” Granski said.

Passionate about using her background in social work and counseling, she recently went through the application process to become a chaplain. However, she’s planning to continue responding to disasters with both organizations.

Janet Granski was one of more than 1,200 attendees at the Sharing Hope in Jesus’ Name conference. In the sea of people, she recognized some friendly faces from past deployments and hopes to continue building relationships with more volunteers in the future—recognizing they’re like a family.

“Everybody just has this one heart and one mind to share the Gospel and minister to people,” Granski said.

She’s experienced that ministry firsthand during deployments. She’s prayed one-on-one with homeowners, and a chaplain has prayed for her.

No stranger to the organizations, Granski recalls first developing a heart for the hurting while growing up as a missionary kid in Brazil. Her parents moved their family there after a 1967 Billy Graham Crusade in Lewisburg, West Virginia—where Granski and her two brothers went to the front during the altar call.

Fast-forward a few decades, and Granski is answering another call on her life—helping people in crisis.

Although she said she’s always wanted to help with disaster relief, she remembers a specific time in her life when she grew in empathy for those suffering. At the age of 17, she faced a personal identity crisis after returning to the States to attend college.

“I was so very homesick and not feeling like I fit in after living in Brazil for all those years,” Granski said. With the help of a counselor, she found Bible verses that assured her of God’s love.

“As I meditated on that, it just made all the difference,” she said. “[God] somehow turns our pain around.”

She was reminded of that truth during one of the conference sessions this past weekend, when Pastor Mike Stroud talked about the devastation surrounding his church in Wewahitchka, Florida, after Hurricane Michael.

The storm was the most powerful hurricane to ever touch the Florida Panhandle, but his church was spared. Only one large tree fell near the church’s side buildings.

That same tree has been shaped into a wooden cross that now sits in the church parking lot.

Pastor Mike Stroud shared about his experience as a pastor in an area significantly affected by Hurricane Michael.

“[Pastor Mike] said our biggest pain can be turned into something beautiful for the Lord’s glory,” Granski said. “And it’s true.”

Just as Granski has witnessed this in her own life, she plans to share that same truth unashamedly with others—no matter if she’s wearing an orange shirt or a blue one.

Do you trust God during life’s storms? Receive His peace today.