Billy Graham Chaplains Deploy to Storm-Battered South

Billy Graham Chaplains Deploy to Storm-Battered South

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has deployed chaplains to Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina after a powerful storm system, spawning dozens of tornadoes, tore through the Southeast Sunday evening into Monday morning.

The storm claimed 34 lives and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

“It’s absolutely catastrophic—the scale of the damage,” said Josh Holland, assistant director of the RRT. “We’re sending crisis-trained chaplains ready to serve in Jesus’ Name, to offer hope, to offer comfort, to offer just someone to pray with—to be a ministry of presence to those who have lost so much.”

Amid the devastation, Franklin Graham urged: “Please join me in praying for these hurting families and those who have lost so much overnight.”

Two RRT Mobile Ministry Centers will accompany the chaplains to offer spiritual and emotional care to those affected by the storms.

“We’re going right into the heart of this disaster,” said Holland.

Already dealing with the effects of COVID-19, state resources are stretched thin and normal disaster response strategies are off the table.

“This is a collision course of conflicting strategies to deal with the natural disasters and the pandemic simultaneously,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

But hope is not lost. State officials are doing what they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus by avoiding housing evacuees in large shelters and arranging hotel rooms instead. And communities are rallying together—with masks, gloves and hand sanitizer—to take care of their own.

In the midst of these multiple crises, RRT chaplains will work alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers to safely address needs resulting from the storms, as well as from the global pandemic.

“Our nation, and our world, has been in an on-going crisis for weeks as a result of COVID-19,” said Holland. “We’re going to make sure we’re taking the precautions needed … to minister in a safe way.”

 

Above: People walk up a street of damaged homes wearing face masks Tuesday, April 14, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after tornadoes ripped through the area Sunday, April 12.

Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

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