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Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Wraps Up Ministry in Alabama and Missouri Following Devastating Tornadoes

Contact: Erik Ogren, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 704-577-2109, eogren@bgea.org 

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 5, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Over the weekend, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains wrapped up their ministry to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo., following deadly tornadoes earlier this year. The cities were two of the hardest hit locations in what has been a particularly active and devastating tornado season.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team spent approximately nine weeks in Tuscaloosa, ministering to and praying with more than 2,600 survivors. They were in Joplin for more than six weeks and comforted more than 4,200 in and around the city of 50,000.

"Already this year, in Tuscaloosa, Joplin, and other areas of our country, we've witnessed unprecedented devastation from violent storms. In just seconds, so many people have been plunged into loss and pain. Many neighborhoods and businesses have been reduced to piles of rubble, speckled with makeshift crosses marking the spot where a loved one died," said Preston Parrish, executive vice president of ministry at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). "We are just thankful for the opportunity to come alongside those who are grieving and broken-hearted, and share with them the hope God offers through the cross of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Please join us in continuing to pray for storm victims and their communities over the coming months. The road ahead for many will be long and very difficult, but God is a sure and present help in times of trouble."

Other 2011 tornado deployments include Birmingham, Ala., which was overwhelmed in the same line of tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa, and three cities in North Carolina (Raleigh, Windsor and Fayetteville) that were hit hard as several tornadoes touched down in April. Two smaller tornado deployments to Pulaski, Va., and Ararat, N.C., have also taken place this year.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is a nationwide network of chaplains across 40 states that are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. Since the ministry was launched in 2002, it has deployed following more than 100 natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and shootings. For information on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt or www.facebook.com/BGRapidResponseTeam.

NOTE: High-resolution photos are available at www.billygraham.org/smr or by contacting Erik Ogren at eogren@bgea.org.