Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains responded quickly with the hope of Jesus Christ to Las Vegas residents and tourists shaken by the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
On Oct. 1, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock rained gunfire on a crowd of some 22,000 at a country music concert, killing 58 and wounding more than 500 before taking his own life.
The following day, Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook: “My heart is heavy for the grieving families whose loved ones were killed at the brutal massacre in Las Vegas. May God comfort them and heal their hearts as only He can. And there are 527 wounded who need our prayers, along with their families, as they deal with their injuries and trauma in the aftermath of this evil.”
Franklin deployed crisis-trained chaplains to pray with, comfort and minister to the hurting and traumatized. Immediately and everywhere, the chaplains found people who had been shaken to the core by the shooting.
“It’s not just people who were at the concert,” said Jeff Naber, manager of chaplain development for the RRT. “It’s everybody in the city—the server at the restaurant, the manager of the hotel, the construction worker I talked to five minutes ago who didn’t sleep last night because he’s got small children and he wonders, Could this happen to one of them?”
Tourists were affected, too. Some, Naber said, had planned their Las Vegas trip for years, only to have this horrific shooting occur while they were there—hitting them with the reality that they, too, could fall victim to such an attack.
The RRT worked with local congregations, which put church members on the street alongside chaplains to see firsthand how they themselves can share hope now and in future crises.
“As people are searching for answers, they need to know that the ‘Father of mercies and God of all comfort’ loves and cares for them,” Franklin said.