Firefighters, Rescue Workers--and Chaplains--Working Hard to Help People in California Impacted by Wildfires
As Firefighters Battle Flames, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is Providing a Unique Element to Wildfire Relief Efforts
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains has been actively working in California for over a week, talking and praying with more than 700 homeowners and displaced victims of the tragic wildfires that have torched thousands of homes and acres of land. More than 100 chaplains are now on the ground in Southern California, continuing the deployment that is expected to run four to six weeks. “Often victims in tragedies like this make it through the initial days of national media attention and living in shelters,” said Jack Munday, director of the Rapid Response Team, “but when it begins to quiet down and they have to face their future, the pain and despair hits.” “That’s why we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere for several more weeks. Our ministry is to bring hope to the hopeless, and peace to those in despair,” said Munday. Along with interactions on streets and in public places, the Rapid Response Team continues to minister alongside Samaritan’s Purse, the disaster relief organization also run by Franklin Graham. As Samaritan’s Purse volunteers help to overcome the physical needs of homeowners, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team seeks to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of the homeowners. Those who desire to talk or pray with Rapid Response Team chaplains are strongly urged to contact the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at 877-2GRAHAM (877-247-2426) to coordinate a telephone or in-person meeting. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was conceived in the days following September 11, 2001. Since that time, the Rapid Response Team has developed into a network of 2,500 chaplains and ministry volunteers across the United States ready to respond anywhere in the country when man-made or natural disasters strike. Dating back to its inception, the Rapid Response Team has deployed 18 times, with nine of those deployments taking place thus far in 2007. Most notably, the Rapid Response Team has deployed to Blacksburg, Va. following the shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech, Minneapolis following the collapse of the I-35 bridge, and Crandon, Wis. following the shootings of several young people there last month. For more information on the Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rapidresponse.