Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headed to New York City to minister alongside medical personnel from sister organization Samaritan’s Purse amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 30, Franklin Graham and his son Will commissioned three BGEA Rapid Response Team chaplains to serve alongside Samaritan’s Purse at the Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park. The chaplains traveled from the BGEA headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to join three other RRT chaplains there. The team of crisis-trained chaplains entered the epicenter of America’s coronavirus crisis to offer emotional and spiritual care to doctors, nurses and patients.
According to Johns Hopkins University, New York City has 67,551 confirmed cases of COVID-19—nearly 20% of the overall cases in the United States. And as of the morning of April 6, the city had recorded 3,048 deaths due to the virus.
Samaritan’s Purse set up its 68-bed Emergency Field Hospital in the East Meadow of Central Park to provide care for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Directly across from Mt. Sinai Hospital, Samaritan’s Purse and Mt. Sinai are working hand in hand. Mt. Sinai is managing the admission and transfer of patients to the Field Hospital, while Samaritan’s Purse doctors and nurses are working to treat the overflow of coronavirus patients.
Because of fears of contagion, most hospitals are not allowing loved ones to visit patients infected with the virus. As a result, many patients that have succumbed to COVID-19 have died alone in isolation.
“If someone passes away [in our Field Hospital], I can promise—they will not die alone,” Franklin said. “Our doctors and nurses will pray for them. Our chaplains will be there to pray with the families.
“We want people to know that God hasn’t abandoned. God hasn’t forgotten. God hasn’t turned His back. This is an opportunity to share with New York, and with the world, the hope that we have. And that hope is in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
As the chaplains prepared to board the RRT Mobile Ministry Center, Will Graham took the time to pray for their protection, as well as the proclamation of the Gospel in New York and across the U.S.
“May the Name of Jesus Christ reign from Central Park,” he prayed. “May this country call on the Name of Jesus Christ above all else, for there is no other Name. And that’s why [it’s such] Good News. There is hope found in Christ.”
This is not the first time RRT chaplains have responded to crisis and disaster in New York. In fact, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was birthed in the aftermath of 9/11 to provide Biblically based grief and trauma training.
Since 2002, the team, which now has more than 1,800 chaplains, has responded to over 260 crises, and offered emotional and spiritual care to more than 400,000 people.
In addition to New York City, RRT chaplains are currently deployed in Cremona, Italy, where another Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital is set up to treat coronavirus patients, as well as Jonesboro, Arkansas, after an EF-3 tornado ripped through the town on Saturday.
Above: The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s Mobile Ministry Center leaves BGEA headquarters March 30 with three crisis-trained chaplains on board heading for New York City.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2020 BGEA