The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has sent crisis-trained chaplains to Baltimore as the city attempts to recover from the chaos and rioting carried out by protesters upset over the death of Freddie Gray.
According to report published on BillyGraham.org, 11 chaplains are currently streets in Baltimore, praying and ministering to city's residents. Over the next few days, many more are expected to join them.
"[Our chaplains are] there to pray with people, to encourage calm, and to share God's love," Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote on his Facebook page. "There are dangerous gangs who want to control the streets and cause more havoc. Pray that God will use these chaplains in a mighty way and that peace will be restored to this devastated city."
Monday night's chaos and riots were fueled by anger over the death of 25-year-old Gray, who reportedly died of a spinal cord injury sustained while in police custody. At least 15 police officers were injured and 230 people arrested as the riots grew violent after hoards of teens used social media to launch a "Purge," the slang term taken from a movie and meaning a night where laws are not observed. Over 150 fires were also attributed to the chaos, and several buildings were completely destroyed, including a $16 million nursing home for disabled veterans,
"In the midst of this civil disorder, we know many lives have been impacted with fear and concern for their own safety," said Jack Munday, international director of the Rapid Response Team. "As with any storm in life, we know that only through Christ can people discover the hope they desperately need.
"Therefore, we will work with local churches and seek to support those who are grieving after this tragic death, as well as all communities and government officials."
Since then, the Maryland National Guard has sent 2,000 guardsman to help the 1,000 police officers from around Maryland, and a citywide curfew of 10 p.m. has been imposed for at least a week.
"It's not over yet," Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters on Wednesday. "There's still a lot of frustrations. There's still a lot of hostility. There's still anger in the community, and there's still people out there that want to make trouble, and there's still some folks that are out there that want to get things out of control."
In a message posted on his organization's website, renowned evangelist Billy Graham reminds Christians to take comfort in the midst of even the worst chaos, for one day, we will see a better world.
"No only a better world, but a perfect world - one that will be free of all the evils and injustices that plague us now," he writes. "But the Bible says this will only happen when Jesus Christ comes again to set up His kingdom of righteousness and peace."
He continues, "Why can't we seem to make any progress toward world peace? It isn't for lack of trying; governments and diplomats work for it all the time. And sometimes their efforts meet with a degree of success - at least for a time. This is one reason why the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders, because God's will is for us to live in peace (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2)."
Graham adds, "But eventually their hopes are dashed, and conflicts and wars once again break out. What's the problem? The problem is within ourselves - within our own hearts and minds. Selfishness, greed, hatred, a yearning for revenge - these destructive yearnings all come from within, and lead eventually to war. The Bible says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1)."