In the aftermath of this year’s wildfires, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) came to the area, to offer physical and emotional support to those affected. They were based out of the Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church in Ashcroft; and on November 4 the BGEA will be holding a “Sharing Hope in Crisis” seminar at the church, which will equip people to know what to say—and what not to say—to anyone experiencing trauma or grief.
Frank King, the news media relations manager for Samaritan’s Purse Canada and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, says that the Sage Hills church really liked what they saw in conversations with the Rapid Response Team when the BGEA came to town. The team goes to disaster sites to provide emotional and spiritual comfort for Samaritan’s Purse volunteers and for those affected by the disaster.
“They spend a lot of time talking with people, and providing support,” says King. “We heard from the church that they would like to get people trained up in case that support is needed again. Even if it’s not a widespread crisis, people need help. They’re going through hard times, and now there will be people around who are equipped to walk beside them, support them, say the right thing at the right time.”
Paul Ford, pastor at Sage Hills Church, says that when the BGEA chaplains were here in the summer they talked about how to reach out to the needs of the community after the fire. “People had a lot of needs, but one large one was people’s mental condition, and they suggested a seminar to teach people how to minister to people in crisis.
“People’s mental, social, and physical needs are important; but we need to be careful not to presume to know where others are at. One of our mandates as a church in our community is to reach out. We want to be seen as a group of people who help those around us. We’re open to the community, not closed, and we want to be part of the community.”
King says that while the “Sharing Hope in Crisis” seminar is the first step in becoming a Rapid Response Team chaplain, it is also a standalone session that is useful on its own. “You don’t have to become a chaplain; you can get this training to stand beside anyone going through tough times.”
King says that it’s very easy for someone who doesn’t know what to say to someone in crisis to say the wrong thing. “People want to be helpful, but don’t know what to say. They’ll say ‘I know what you’re going through’ when they don’t. Saying ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away’ to someone who’s a Christian isn’t helpful.
“And any sentence that starts ‘Oh, at least you haven’t …’ is not going to end well.”
King says that the seminar will teach people what to say and what to ask. “‘How are you holding up?’ or ‘I can’t possibly imagine how difficult this is for you’ acknowledge the scope of the crisis. And sometimes you just need to listen.”
The “Sharing Hope in Crisis” seminar takes place at the Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church on Saturday, November 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $25 per person and includes resources and lunch. To register, call 1-800-293-3717.