This years’ bushfire season has been catastrophic. In NSW alone, bushfires have burnt more than 6 million hectares of land, over 1,500 homes have been destroyed and at least 22 people have lost their lives across the nation. Billy Graham Rapid Response team (BG-RRT) chaplains have been responding to give spiritual and emotional care to numerous bushfire impacted communities in QLD and NSW since we began our response on 22 September.
In November, we deployed 10 BG-RRT chaplains for a month long deployment to Taree, NSW. The chaplains were able to support local churches and the community by providing spiritual support, and also work alongside Samaritan’s Purse volunteers as they assisted fire-affected homeowners clean up properties and recover possessions.
One of our chaplains spoke with a lady, Heidi*, who had lost her phone and was frustrated as she was running late for an appointment. The chaplain was able to chat with her and lend her a phone. It turned out Heidi’s house had burnt down and she had been living in a tent for some time, which was getting very difficult. Our chaplain was able to share with her the booklet, “Steps to Peace with God”. Heidi read through the book with the chaplain and afterwards made a decision to accept Jesus as Lord. She didn’t own a Bible, so she gladly accepted the Bible offered to her by the chaplain. Heidi shared, “13 December is no longer a ‘Black Friday’ but a new beginning for my life. I feel a strength I’ve not known before.”
Every conversation a chaplain has with a person is a privilege. Please join with us as we pray for Heidi, and for all the people our chaplains were able to speak with, that they will know the hope we have in Jesus.
As we continue to respond to the bushfires, Stewart Beveridge, Rapid Response Team Manager Australia/New Zealand, shares “the power of being present when a community responds to trauma affirms the reality that God is in the storm with us. Rapid Response Team Chaplains are deploying to support the local church and community in recovery from this terrible fire season.”
BG-RRT chaplains are continuing to respond to the bushfire crisis as we now target other impacted communities in NSW as well as in VIC and SA. If you would like to financially support the ministry of BG-RRT, please click below.
If you are interested in become a BG-RRT chaplain, please click here.
*Name changed for privacy