Billy Graham Rapid Response Chaplains Ministering in Nice, France

By BGEA | July 15, 2016

A boy lights a candle near the site of the truck attack in Nice, France, which killed at least 80 people including children.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is a global network of crisis-trained chaplains. The RRT currently has chaplains ministering in Fort McMurray, Alberta (wildfires); Dallas, Texas (police shooting); Baton Rouge, Louisiana (police shooting and civil unrest); Kanawha and Greenbrier counties, West Virginia (deadly flooding); Brazoria County, Texas (flooding), and now Nice, France.

Following the vicious attack on July 14 in Nice, France, that left more than 80 people dead including children, an international team of crisis-trained chaplains is responding to offer emotional and spiritual care to the traumatized community.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a worldwide network made up of hundreds of chaplains ready to respond at a moment’s notice to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and civil unrest, now has 10 chaplains from Canada, the U.S. and the UK on the ground in Nice.

“We’ll provide support and compassion in the Name of Jesus following another terrorist tragedy in France,” said Merle Doherty, manager of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada’s RRT ministry. “It was only eight months ago that we were in France in equally tragic circumstances, comforting people after a similar terrorist attack. People are hurting so much. We need to be there.”

In the attack last November, a similar multi-national team of chaplains provided listening ears, comforting hearts, and offers of prayer after the worst violence that France had experienced in more than 70 years. Armed ISIS terrorists attacked six sites in the heart of Paris, including a concert hall where more than 80 people died, plus a national soccer stadium, and two restaurants.

The team going to France will be led by a French-speaking Canadian chaplain who has lived in Nice and knows the area well. The same chaplain led last November’s response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

For the second time in eight months, the French people have experienced a horrific attack targeting unsuspecting civilians. This time it happened during a fireworks display and Bastille Day celebration in Nice, a picturesque city on the Mediterranean Sea, near the Italian border.

This will be the third international joint deployment for the Rapid Response Team in less than a year. Four months after responding in Paris, crisis-trained chaplains also ministered to people in Brussels, Belgium, following the terrorist attack at an airport in March.

Meanwhile, RRT chaplains are continuing to provide emotional and spiritual support in Fort McMurray as residents of the northern Alberta city adjust to the grim reality of more than 2,000 buildings destroyed by a massive forest fire last May that forced the month-long evacuation of more than 80,000 people.

Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, called the attack in Nice “another round of devastation that has totally disrupted thousands of lives.”

“And yet,” he continued, “God is able—more than able—to bring His comfort and hope in times like this.”

As the chaplains travel to Nice, asking God to direct their steps as they meet people who are suffering, they will aim to bring a presence of hope, comfort and peace as they encounter locals and tourists alike.

“The goal would be to make ourselves available to provide emotional and spiritual care and to actively engage with area churches to help equip them for ministry in times of grief,” Munday said. “In these days of uncertainty, it is time for the Church to be the Church, in touching people’s lives every day in their communities.”

The members of the Rapid Response Team will provide a listening ear and will offer to talk or to pray with those who are willing.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the chaplains carry with them a light that shines hope and love into these dark times.

“We are very grateful for Canadian donors and their ongoing support of our RRT chaplain ministry that makes these urgently needed deployments possible,” said BGEA Canada executive director Fred Weiss. “That support has enabled our chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual support in response to more than 15 crises and tragedies in Canada, the U.S and Europe in the past 3 years. In each situation, the chaplains offer the compassion and hope of Christ.”

Will you pray for the people of Nice, the loved ones of the adults and children killed in the attack, and the chaplains who are responding?

Will you also financially support this vital ministry of the Gospel?