PHOTOS: Billy Graham Chaplains Offer Hope in New York, Italy

As the world faces COVID-19, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) has deployed to New York City and northern Italy—two major hotspots for the coronavirus. Teams of crisis-trained chaplains are serving at Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospitals, offering emotional and spiritual care to locals, patients and medical staff.
Crisis-trained chaplains have been on the ground in Italy for more than a week—and have witnessed the Lord’s work in mighty ways. Here, chaplain Michael Schaafsma speaks to the wife of a patient being discharged from the Samaritan’s Purse Respiratory Care Unit (RCU) in Cremona, Italy.
With New York becoming the global epicenter of COVID-19, “The City That Never Sleeps” has been slowed to nearly a halt—other than the extremely busy hospitals. Each day, more people are dying and hospital beds are increasingly filled. Find lasting hope that only comes from a personal faith in God through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.
With such grim circumstances, prayer is desperately needed and can make all the difference. As a patient is moved to ICU, a chaplain lifts up a prayer in Cremona, Italy. Usually when chaplains deploy to manmade or natural disasters, they’ll hold hands or put an arm around those they pray alongside. This deployment is different with necessary safety precautions being taken—but God’s hand remains on them.
Chaplain coordinator Kevin Williams talks with chaplains and military person in New York City. Williams is no stranger to the city, which he helped in the aftermath of 9/11. >> Find out more about the NYC deployment.
Billy Graham chaplains pour morning coffee and tea for COVID-19 patients in Italy. “We’re chaplains, but more than that, we’re followers of Jesus,” said chaplain Jason Scalzi. “If we see trash on the ground, we pick it up; if there’s food that needs to be distributed, we serve it. If we see another person needing help putting up a tent, we put up a tent. It doesn’t matter, we are here to serve Samaritan’s Purse, serve Italy and serve Jesus in doing that. God shows up and His glory manifests in a powerful way in that.”
Just a few days ago, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed that of the 9/11 attacks. “You still see people walking in the park, riding bikes, moving around,” chaplain coordinator Kevin Williams said. “And 95 percent of them will stop on the outskirts and look down at this hospital. At nighttime around 7 o’clock, there are people that come up on the hilltops up there, and they clap and they cheer about what’s going on every day with the progress of the hospital.”
“We are seeing patients being discharged, which is an answer to our prayers,” chaplain Jason Scalzi said. Here, he speaks to a patient being discharged from the Samaritan’s Purse RCU in Cremona, Italy. >> Listen to chaplains talk about their experience sharing the love of Christ in Italy.
Even with the ongoing bad news of this pandemic, the ultimate Good News is being shared. Here, a local pastor drops off Bibles (in Italian) for chaplains to offer patients.
Please be in prayer for the Billy Graham chaplains’ ministry and Samaritan’s Purse staff, along with all hospitals and COVID-19 patients.