Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains offered a ministry of presence and prayer around the memorial site in Quebec just days after a deadly shooting in the provincial capital on January 29, 2017.
Vigils and memorials were held throughout Canada in remembrance of the six people who were fatally shot at the mosque. A 27-year-old student was charged with the murders.
“It’s important for us to deploy so we can share the hope of the Gospel there in a community that’s overwhelmed with a tragedy such as a mass shooting,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Rapid Response Team. “And we’re there to remind them that God loves them and to share God’s hope with those that are willing to pray and allow us to minister to them.”
French-speaking chaplains worked alongside local churches during this deployment. Quebec, with a population of more than 8 million, is a melting pot of sorts when it comes to religion. Based on a demographics report on the government’s website, the area is predominantly Christian. Muslims comprise the third-largest faith group. Aboriginal spirituality, Hinduism and Sikh are among the other religions represented in the report, which also indicated 930,000 Quebecers claim no religious affiliation.
“There are people coming to the memorial site (near the mosque) for support,” said RRT chaplain David Dytynyshyn. “They’re grieving for the affected families. The general population is sympathizing (with the Muslim community) and seems to be saying: ‘Hey, this kind of violence isn’t us.’”
This was the first Rapid Response Team deployment in 2017. In 2016, RRT chaplains comforted residents after murders in La Loche, SK, and Abbotsford, BC. Chaplains also deployed to Fort McMurray, AB, after the devastating wildfire, and to flood-affected communities in Windsor, ON; Cape Breton, NS; and Lil’wat First Nation, BC.
As well, chaplains from Canada were deployed four times to Europe to comfort terrorist victims after attacks in Belgium, France, and Germany.
In the aftermath of the deadly shooting, people of all faiths converged at a growing memorial site set up on the snowbanks outside the mosque. It’s to this entire community the chaplains offered a ministry of presence and prayer while working alongside local churches. The goal was not only to listen and talk with people who were hurting, but also to encourage the churches in responding during a time of tragedy.
“It’s an encouragement to local churches,” Munday said. “Many times they don’t see where they would have a role when in fact it’s critically important that they do have a presence in their community to serve those that have been devastated and are grieving.”
Please continue to pray for the families and communities who were affected by this tragedy in Quebec City.
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