The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team went to Ferguson, Missouri, last week in the aftermath of a police shooting in order to help the town deal with its frustration and offer prayer for those who needed it.
"We're here to try to bring unity throughout the community, through emotional and spiritual care," Al New, manager of deployments and operations for the team, said in a Facebook post. "We're neutral. We're not here for one side or the other; we're here for everybody."
The team included eight trained chaplains familiar with the situation and unrest in Ferguson since the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and now the official resignation of the police chief and several other high-profile officials. Members of the team were invited to return to the town last week in order to provide a sense of stability and relief in the midst of the turmoil.
"What we saw before was a lot of anger and hurt and pain as a result of loss," Jack Munday, international director of the team, said on Thursday. "Now what we're seeing is all those emotions, plus a new layer of fear, to know that there is a shooter loose in the community."
According to the organization, several people were helped and even stopped from engaging in protests thanks to the mobile team. Kevin Williams, one of the chaplains, said that three teenage boys on their way to the protests stopped by the mobile unit and started talking with him; they decided not to engage in the protests and actually went to get their cousin so she could meet the chaplains. It was a sign to the chaplains that their presence was making a difference.
"It is not possible to solve a community's deep-rooted problems with a team of chaplains deployed for six weeks, and we knew that before we started," Franklin Graham said ahead of the team's first trip to Ferguson. "But God used the chaplains to touch many hearts and to play fruitful seeds in the community."
Jeffrey Williams, 20, was arrested on Sunday and charged with felony assault, armed criminal actions, and a weapons offense in the shooting of the two officers. His attorney argued that he was not trying to aim at someone else and that the officers were "accidentally" shot.