Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Deploys to Australia as Fire Casualties Mount
Deployments Also Taking Place in Missouri, Kentucky and Oklahoma
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains is deploying to Melbourne, Australia at the invitation of local churches in response to the wildfires that have brought extreme devastation to the continent. News reports indicate that more than 1.1 million acres of land have burned and casualties could reach 300. Thousands more have been left homeless. In the small town of Marysville, located approximately 60 miles from Melbourne, it is reported that 100 of the 500 residents have perished. “The heartbreak caused by these fires is unimaginable,” said Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “We will spend a week with the churches in and around Melbourne, offering training on how to appropriately offer emotional and spiritual care during such a tragic time.” Leigh Brown, executive director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) of Australia, added, “Dr. Graham came to Melbourne 50 years ago, and 50 years later BGEA is helping again.” Last month, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team conducted a similar deployment to Brazil to help the churches cope with widespread and deadly floods. Past international deployments have followed Myanmar’s cyclone, Kenya’s political upheaval, and hurricanes in Grenada and Grand Turk Island. At the same time, domestic needs are mounting. Chaplains have been deployed to Poplar Bluff, Mo., since January 29 in response to ice storms and will remain there through Sunday, February 15. An additional team will deploy next week to Madisonville, Ky., where power is only recently returning to homes that have been without electricity since an ice storm came through on January 27. Chaplains are also moving into Lone Grove, Okla., where nine people have died as a result of a tornado that caught the city by surprise on Wednesday. The town of 4,600 is located approximately 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. These 2009 outreaches come on the heels of a very busy 2008, which included deployments to 31 disaster sites, more than in all previous years of the Rapid Response Team ministry combined. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a ministry of the BGEA that developed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is a nationwide network of more than 3,000 chaplains and ministry volunteers who are specially trained to appropriately offer emotional and spiritual care during crisis situations. About BGEA The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) proclaims the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. From its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., BGEA runs a wide range of domestic and international evangelism ministries, including: large-scale festivals led by evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham; Dare to Be a Daniel, a youth evangelism training project; My Hope World Evangelism Through Television; the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, offering the hope of Jesus Christ in the midst of tragedy; and many others through print, television, telephone, radio and the Internet. For more information, please visit www.billygraham.org.