Billy Graham: A Voice of Hope in Crisis — Hurricane Katrina, 2005
Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the southeastern United States as one of the deadliest and most costly storms of its kind. 15 years later, the Gulf Coast is preparing for another massive storm as Hurricane Laura is predicted to hit the region as a major hurricane. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains spent months bringing hope and comfort to those affected by the disaster in the midst of one of the greatest natural disasters in the history of the country.
Billy Graham issued this statement following Hurricane Katrina:
The disaster of Hurricane Katrina may be the worst tragedy America has known since the Civil War. The aftermath has almost been frightening. Mayhem, looting, shooting, and raping on one hand – compassion on the other. Millions of Americans, and millions of people in many countries abroad, want to help. The tragedy is so overwhelming that it is beyond comprehension. Yet it presents a challenge. With the aid of modern technology it is possible to turn the tragedy into blessing.
I pray especially for the hundreds of thousands who have become refugees because of what has happened. The flood of refugees may be one of the greatest challenges our society has ever faced. It is clear that it will take years for thousands of lives to return to normal. Once again, Americans are showing that they are the most compassionate people in the world. Scores of organizations and thousands of churches and individuals are involved in opening their arms of love and compassion to these refugees. It may be the greatest opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in this generation.
Whenever any disaster like this strikes, we often ask ourselves why. Why did God let this happen? I have been asked that question hundreds of times, and I have to confess that I do not know the full answer. I can recall walking through the aftermath of hurricanes in Florida and South Carolina, and a typhoon in India that killed tens of thousands, and earthquakes in California and Guatemala, and every time I have asked “Why?” Job in the Bible asked the same question thousands of years ago, and his only answer was that God’s ways are often beyond our understanding, and yet He is sovereign and He can still be trusted. The Bible says evil is a mystery. Someday we will understand, but not now.
I do know this, however: God knows what we are going through, and He still loves us and cares about us. In the midst of suffering and tragedy we can turn to Him for the comfort and help we need. Times like this will make us react in one of two ways: Either we will become bitter and angry – or we will realize our need of God and turn to Him in faith and trust, even if we don’t understand. The Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). The Bible also promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. …Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:2,4). May this tragedy make each of us realize our need of God, and may we turn to Christ in repentance and faith and find our hope in Him.
Across America this weekend, not a minute will go by without millions praying for those impacted by the hurricane – the loss of loved ones, homes, jobs. Our hearts go out to you, and the message we would like to get through to you is that we care, and that we are helping in every way we can.
Will you join us in praying for those in the path of Hurricane Laura today?