Myanmar: Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Comforting Christians In Devestated Country
Deployment Involves Training Churches, Offering Hope to Survivors
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains is currently ministering inside the country of Myanmar, following the deadly destruction of Cyclone Nargis in May. A small group of chaplains has been in Myanmar for a week, training churches there on how to respond in times of tragedy. The Rapid Response Team, which is working in Myanmar at the request of local churches and ministries, has held three days of training, focusing on understanding grief and trauma from a biblical perspective, pastoral leadership in times of crisis, and how to share the hope of Christ in the midst of tragedy. Over the next several days, they will continue to comfort individuals who have been personally affected by the cyclone. “The devastation is almost impossible to describe or imagine,” says Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “And the hearts of the people here are no different than the hearts of those in the United States. They ache for lost loved ones and weep for their children who are missing. It is extremely sad.” He continues, “Our main goal in the very limited amount of time that we have in this country is to equip the churches to shine the light of hope in these dark days. Long after our small team has left Myanmar, the churches will continue to help the nation heal and move forward.” International deployments are a relatively new facet of the Rapid Response Team’s outreach. Though chaplains have deployed dozens of times across the United States dating back to 2002, this is only the third time that deployments have occurred outside of U.S. borders. The previous two missions followed a hurricane in Grenada in 2005 and the massive bloodshed in Kenya earlier this year. “While we tend to focus on our domestic troubles, and certainly it is logistically easier to work inside the United States, it’s important that we remember that tragedy does not discriminate and does not know borders. Around the world people are in despair and in need of hope,” says Munday. The Myanmar outreach is the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s 15th deployment of 2008. The Rapid Response Team was developed following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of more than 2,600 chaplains and ministry volunteers who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. For more information on the Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rapidresponse.