During these uncertain times, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains are actively deploying, bringing the comfort, hope and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ to hurting people affected by COVID-19 as well as other natural disasters. Thank you for your prayers and gifts which help take the Gospel into crisis situations.
We have over 1,800 chaplains who are wearing their signature BG-RRT blue shirts daily, serving their neighbours and local communities whilst still observing social distancing guidelines. Many chaplains have shared experiences of comforting and praying for people. We have heard stories of ministry taking place in grocery and retail stores, rest areas and other public places.
During the peak of the crisis, our chaplains were on the ground in both Cremona, Italy, and Central Park, New York, ministering alongside the Samaritan’s Purse field hospitals. These men and women were on the front lines, face-to-face with the pandemic. Their example reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s, who said,
“I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
—ACTS 20:24, NASB
Your prayers and gifts help make this possible, touching thousands with the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ. What you do makes an eternal difference.
May God richly bless you,
Franklin Graham | President
Sharing Hope in Crisis
NEW YORK CITY
“We just pray that the light would shine out of this place. We pray that there would be hope and peace as people walk by, that it would just flow over them,” says Yvonne Denmark. She and her husband, Tim, were two of our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains recently deployed to New York City to serve alongside the Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital. Located in Central Park at a busy street corner, it became an intersection of crisis and hope.
Yvonne spent hours inside the tent hospital in full-body personal protective equipment standing by the side of COVID-19 patients. Their family members could not be with them in the hospital, so the chaplains offered comfort and support.
A food van, parked on the street near a major New York hospital across from the field hospital, gave free pizzas to doctors and nurses in the area. The BG-RRT tent was just a few feet away from the van, and every day the chaplains encountered medical personnel and local residents curious about the red and black “Sharing Hope in Crisis” tent. Chaplains were available to pray with anyone who passed through Central Park.
“We pray that there would be hope and peace as people walk by, that it would just flow over them.”
Some came right up and approached the chaplains with questions, but others hesitated. Chaplain Kevin Williams said many of the people were like Nicodemus—curious but they didn’t necessarily want to be spotted by their peers. Williams said, “I really believe they know that going back to the normal way they were living and believing up to this point is not sufficient.”
One day while visiting COVID-19 patients in the ward, our chaplains met a patient who works as a doorman at a local apartment building. He warmly invited them over to his bed, wanting to talk about spiritual things. When the chaplains shared the Good News, explaining God’s love and sacrifice, tears welled up in his eyes as the Holy Spirit moved in his life. The patient then made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. They all praised God for His work!
Perfect love casts out fear
“Absolutely not.” That’s what BG-RRT chaplain Jason Scalzi told Luca,* a COVID-19 patient at the field hospital in Italy, when he asked if the chaplains were afraid to be there. Jason continued, “The moment we heard of the need here and the people dying and their sickness, we wanted to come. … It is the love of Christ that compels us to go, and that perfect love casts out fear.”
Once a healthy athlete, Luca was growing impatient and worried with his illness. BG-RRT chaplains deploy to offer a listening ear, encouragement and prayer. And they look for opportunities to share the hope of Jesus Christ. Jason explained to Luca, “We’re chaplains, but more than that, we’re followers of Jesus.” The two men engaged in a long conversation about the love of God and His offer of salvation. The more the chaplain shared, the more Luca’s heart softened. Finally, Luca said that he wanted to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He prayed to repent of his sins and invite the Lord into his life. One local pastor had provided cases of Italian New Testaments, and Jason handed one to Luca.
“When God is involved, great things are happening and we expect greater things to happen.”
Italy, with staggering numbers of coronavirus cases, became one of the first epicenters of the pandemic. Crisis-trained BG-RRT chaplains, including Jason and his wife, Damaris, deployed to Cremona, Italy, to provide emotional and spiritual care to patients, hospital staff and many others in the region as doors for ministry opened. Jason said, “We’re seeing connections with the community, within the government, in law enforcement, in the fire department. When God is involved, great things are happening and we expect greater things to happen.”
In Northern Italy, Marco,* a photographer who was taking pictures at the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital, began talking with one of our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains. Immediately, the chaplain recognised God was moving in this man’s life. The photographer wanted to know more about the Gospel, and the chaplain had the opportunity to share the Good News with him. We praise God that Marco prayed to accept His gift of salvation.
Another chaplain brought a cup of coffee to a police officer working at the discharge gate of the field hospital in Italy. After a few minutes, the chaplain began asking the officer about spiritual things. He wanted to know the way to heaven. The chaplain explained how he could have peace with God, and he invited Jesus into his heart.
“We’re seeing connections with the community, within the government, in law enforcement, in the fire department.”
Chaplains also encountered two Cremona Hospital employees, who came to the gate at the Samaritan’s Purse Field Hospital. One shared that she was a Christian and had wanted to pray with them a few weeks ago, but thought there would be a language barrier. The chaplains were able to lead the women in prayer. The two employees later shared about the peace that God gives with family members and co-workers, leading others to receive Christ.
“I am not forgotten.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Margaret* called the UK prayer line with a heavy heart. Life had been one setback after another for her—a serious car accident, unemployment and the death of a loved one. Margaret opened up about her struggles, her faith in God, and her loneliness. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplain on the other end of the line ministered to her and prayed for her. Before the call ended, God had touched her heart and restored her hope. “Thank you!” she said. “It helps to know people are praying and that I’m not forgotten.”
Volunteer chaplains have spoken with people from across the country—providing a listening ear, offering prayer and spreading the hope of Jesus Christ during this difficult time. They’ve received requests for prayer from many others like Margaret who are struggling to cope with their depression and anxiety during the pandemic. “
“In some cases, chaplains were able to refer people to local churches and support services,” Nigel Fawcett-Jones, BG-RRT coordinator for the UK said. Chaplains have also received prayer requests from church leaders as some feel overwhelmed by the increase in funeral services and pastoral care they’ve had to provide. The crisis-trained chaplains have spoken to people from all walks of life sharing the true hope of Jesus Christ to those suffering. “God is still sovereign and His love for them hasn’t changed,” Fawcett-Jones added.
*Names changed for privacy.
WANT PRAYER OR SOMEONE TO TALK TO?
Whatever fears or anxieties you may be facing in this time of uncertainty, you’re not alone. If you would like to share your prayer requests, or just talk with a chaplain, get in touch today. Feel free to share this with anyone you know who might want prayer or need to talk
SHARING GOD’S HOPE IN THE COVID-19 CRISIS
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PRAY | Your prayers make an eternal difference in taking the Gospel to people in need. Pray for the BG-RRT chaplains as they bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ to hurting hearts.
GIVE | Your financial gifts help train and deploy chaplains taking the hope of Christ into crisis situations.