Chaplains Return to Encourage the Community of Rochester

In the heart of disaster-stricken Australia, amidst the chaos and devastation left by floods and fires, there exists a dedicated couple, Ray and Ruth, devoted chaplains of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BGEA-RRT). Their story is one of unwavering commitment and compassionate service, etched against the backdrop of communities grappling with the aftermath of national disasters.

Ray and Ruth’s journey began as Disaster Relief Assessors, stepping into the shoes of those who bear witness to the immediate aftermath of disasters. They became the first faces people saw in the wake of floods and fires, offering comfort. Inspired by their experiences alongside BGEA-RRT chaplains, they felt called to expand their role and provide comfort during times of profound distress.

The couple prayerfully embarked to expand their capability to respond during times of disaster. They attended a Sharing Hope in Crisis (SHIC) seminar at their local church. This equipped them with the tools to share the Gospel with those grappling with tragedy.

Ruth shared the scripture as the driving force for her expanding the driving force to volunteer during a disaster, “I’m reminded of Peter who said “…always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15), It made me think about how I witness to people, to have those natural conversations which aren’t threatening.”

 “Like Jesus and the two men on the road to Emmaus, they were in distress, they had lost all hope and didn’t know what the world was going to be like. Jesus came alongside them, walked with them, talked with them, and shared the scripture with them, he shared comfort” commented Ruth.

Their first deployment led them to the flood-affected town of Rochester in central Victoria. Among the displaced residents was retired nurse Joycey, who, in the wake of personal tragedies and professional challenges, found herself navigating the tumultuous waters of life. Ray and Ruth became her support, offering a listening ear that allowed her to unpack not just the recent flood but the weight of years leading up to it.

In the quiet moments over the next two days, Ray and Ruth provided comfort to Joycey, while volunteers helped her restore her street library, full of books for passing families in the community.

“It was just lovely, And unfortunately, since the flood, it hasn’t happened as much, people used to walk past all the time and stop to have a chat,” Joycey shared.

Their impact extended beyond comforting words. Invited into Joycey’s home, Ray and Ruth were able to share a prayer with her and provided her a living book that she hadn’t owned before, a Billy Graham Training Bible. Marking a new chapter for Joycey and her street library.

As the chaplain teams continue to respond to many others embarking on the challenging journey of rebuilding, the prayerful presence of Ray and Ruth serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of compassion. In their shared stories, we find hope amidst ruins, a reminder that even in the darkest times, there are those who walk alongside us, offering comfort, listening without judgment, and sharing the light of faith.