On May 3, Fort McMurray, Alberta was evacuated due to a massive wildfire that engulfed the city of 80,000.
Over 2,400 buildings were destroyed in the fire. Residents have begun returning since the evacuation order was lifted June 1. On July 6, the Alberta government announced the fire was under control. Our Rapid Response Team chaplains have been helping since the outset. Municipal authorities have invited us into the city to provide support, encouragement and prayer to all who need it.
The Fort McMurray municipal employee was exhausted.
Despite being one of the residents who lost his home to the wildfire, the man was one of hundreds of people who had worked non-stop to prepare the city for the return of tens of thousands of evacuated residents.
He came to find spiritual and emotional support at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Mobile Ministry Center. It’s a specially designed truck which serves as the home base for Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains working in this northern Alberta city.
Specially trained chaplains were permitted to enter Fort McMurray May 21, ministering to first-responders and others who were authorized to return early.
“As this man was sharing his story, tears were streaming down his face,” said Janet Voth, one of the Rapid Response Team leaders.
The man was led to Christ by his father at age 5, Janet added, but drifted away from his faith as a young adult.
“He knew he needed to re-establish a relationship with Jesus and, after further discussion, he prayed to re-dedicate his life to Christ. Praise the Lord!”
Janet reported that the man “still has some serious decisions to make and stated he plans to lean on the Lord for direction. It was clear by his facial expression and body language that he left some of his burdens at the foot of the cross.”
God has provided many opportunities like this for chaplains to share Christ’s love and compassion. Provincial and municipal officials, along with Red Cross representatives, have recognized the value offered by chaplains, who are trained to respond to people in crisis.
“Many people have reached out to us enthusiastically, sharing their excitement and/or fears of what they would see in their homes,” said Janet. “We were hugged and thanked many times for being there for them.”
We expect the chaplains to be in Fort McMurray for at least five weeks, making this the largest RRT response since the 2013 southern Alberta floods. Because of the size of this response, we will need more donations to help as many people as possible.
To support the Rapid Response Team with your prayers and gifts, please click the “Donate Now” button or call 1-800-293-3717.
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Your gift will help Rapid Response chaplains to be trained and deployed to crisis situations where they can provide spiritual and emotional comfort.