City Light News
When the St. John River spilled its banks this past April, more
than 500 families in New Brunswick were forced to seek emergency
shelter. With over 1,300 homes flooded and 42 streets in the
capital city of Fredericton under water, this disaster affected the
Not only was Samaritan's Purse one of the first on the scene to
provide supplies and physical aid, but chaplains from the Rapid
Response Team (RRT) were there as well, bringing emotional support
and the message of God's love.
The RRT is a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
(BGEA), a sister organization to Samaritan's Purse.
"I think the marriage of both ministries is amazing," said Melanie
Neufeld, the RRT coordinator for Canada. "Samaritan's Purse does
the physical work so these people are obviously relieved…When we
come along, they're usually pretty open to have us pray with them
and talk to them."
After the RRT left the flood-ravaged area, Neufeld received a
special 'thank you' card from a couple who run a local diner in
"In today's society when so many just turn a blind eye, it is just
so very special to know there are some who care so much," they
The idea of an RRT first formed from the crumbled ruins of New
York's Twin Towers. When the BGEA opened their Prayer Centre near
Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it
became clear that ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs
of people caught in crisis was as crucial as meeting their physical
The BGEA brought in experts in crisis counseling to train lay
Christians to be chaplains, who could then be sent to disaster
zones to provide prayer and the presence of Christ to traumatized
Three years ago, Melanie Neufeld began building an RRT in Canada
and facilitated the first training session in Calgary.
Since then, 350 individuals in five different cities have gone
through the training and over 75 of those people are now approved
The BGEA training course, His Presence in Crisis, is one Neufeld
recommends everyone take. She explains it enables people to support
friends and family, like an aunt who's going through cancer, a
friend who's going through a divorce or somebody who's just had a
The BGEA also provides instruction to train churches to respond
and mobilize teams in times of crisis, in their communities under
their own church umbrella. The Canadian head office in Calgary will
be hosting a Community Impact Seminar on November 9.
Neufeld is planning on taking these seminars to every major city
in Canada in the next two years. The Vancouver area will be next on
the list since Neufeld said the BGEA would love to have 500
chaplains on the ground providing encouragement, prayer, and
comfort during the Olympics.
More information on the RRT or the Community Impact Seminar can be
found at www.billygraham.ca or by calling 1-800-293-3717.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada