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AG World Missions and Convoy of Hope are partnering to help feed and care for those affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Convoy of Hope is procuring emergency meals and medical supplies, and AGWM is funding the shipping and distribution of these critically needed items. Six shipping containers are already en route to Liberia, and plans for a total of 30 containers are underway.

AGWM and Convoy of Hope's partnership makes this relief effort both financially efficient and effective in touching the suffering. By partnering with AG churches in the affected areas, relief supplies are distributed to those who need it most, and people are connected with the gospel and a community of believers. Every dollar given will deliver 30 meals to people in Africa's hardest hit communities.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Assemblies of God in Liberia (AGL) is reaching out to the suffering with a gospel witness, prayer, and tangible assistance, such as food and household supplies. The Ebola crisis has had a negative impact on the nation's economy, leaving many without even the most basic necessities. 

Greg Beggs, AG World Missions regional director for Africa, says, "AG national churches in Liberia and Sierra Leone are valiantly coping with this horrendous health crisis. We need to unite our prayers with them for God's intervention."

In order to maximize its influence, the AGL has formed a partnership with the Christian Health Association of Liberia, which works hand in hand with the Liberia Ministry of Health as well as 1,600 churches nationwide.

In neighboring Sierra Leone, the Ebola epidemic began in the village of Koindu where an AG Bible school is located. Several deaths have been reported from the school and area churches. Despite steps to attempt containment, the epidemic has spread to every district in the nation. According to the World Health Organization, the densely populated national capital, Freetown, has been called "one of the worst affected cities in this outbreak."

The Sierra Leone Assemblies of God has received medical supplies (gloves, masks and hand sanitizer) from HealthCare Ministries, AGWM's medical outreach. Local churches distribute those supplies in remote regions where the disruption of services has created staggering shortages.

"Much of the success of the current relief efforts stems from the presence of strong AG churches in the area," says Jerry Ireland, director of Africa AG Care. "Apart from the network of Assemblies of God-affiliated churches, such efforts would be greatly hindered, if not impossible."

"During the Thanksgiving season is an especially appropriate time to express our gratitude for God's blessings with a meaningful and tangible offering that is effective in any amount," says Randy Hurst, AGWM Communications director. "Through this effective partnership between AGWM and Convoy of Hope, for every dollar 30 meals can reach desperate people in Africa. Even a child can give a dollar and know their gift delivered 30 meals."

To give, click here.

 


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Flash mob -- preparing chaplains to respond

Mon, 07 Nov 2011 - 4:30 PM CST

Whether preparing students for military chaplaincy, occupational and institutional chaplaincy or even emergency services chaplaincy, the Assemblies of God has established a reputation for providing quality chaplains to serve in a variety of ministry areas.

Military chaplains serve active duty and reserve military units. Occupational and Institutional Chaplains serve in businesses and institutional setting such as jails and prisons. Emergency Services Chaplains serve the emotional and spiritual needs within fire departments, law enforcement agencies, EMS departments, and emergency dispatch centers. They care for responders and citizens in crisis.

Recently, the Assemblies of God national Chaplaincy Department partnered with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) to help chaplaincy students and those preparing to be emergency services chaplains experience the demands of a violent flash mob.

Jernigan and Cordero
Chaplains Jernigan and Cordero.

Dr. Manuel Cordero and Chaplain Robby Jernigan were the organizers of the event. Cordero teaches a five-day intensive at AGTS called Ministry to People in Trauma and Crisis and Grief, designed mostly for AGTS students called into the military or occupational/institutional chaplaincy. Jernigan, an AG U.S. missionary, conducts online Emergency Services Chaplain training along with periodic in-classroom chaplain training classes for pastors and others who want to become involved in their local communities as emergency services chaplains.

"In Chaplaincy," AG Chaplaincy Ministries Director Alvin Worthley says, "we know that chaplains need this training in order to be prepared to minister in traumatic situations. We also believe that pastors of local churches should be prepared to respond to traumatic situations that happen in their local community."

Cordero says that a violent flash mob incident was chosen because it's cutting edge right now. "It's also critical to understand that we need to be prepared for about anything - whether it's a flash mob, a tornado that kills and destroys such as in Joplin or a hurricane that destroys and paralyzes such as the Northeast experienced earlier this year."

Although the flash mob violence was simulated, organizers of this training exercise focused on realism.

"The mob was comprised of Central Bible College and AGTS staff and students along with students from Evangel University," Jernigan says. "In this scenario, the mob started making fun of religion and then started stealing and breaking stuff at AGTS. We had several individuals who confronted the mob, and ultimately the mob turned on them. Bystanders were beaten, with one ultimately being 'shot and killed.'"

Flash Mob 2
As observers look on in the background, the flash mob takes off, leaving their "victims" behind.

As the flash mob dispersed, a Cox Hospital EMS crew with a fully-equipped ambulance arrived on the scene to attend to the "injured," while Green Lawn Funeral Home sent members of their staff to remove the body of the "deceased." In addition, the Springfield (Missouri) Police Department and the Greene County (Missouri) Sheriff's Office were on hand to ensure safety, while students from the Evangel University Criminal Justice Department served as security for the event.

Jernigan says that although it is unlikely that a chaplain will be caught in the middle of a flash mob, there is a strong likelihood that he or she will be ministering to people who have experienced or witnessed a crisis event in their lives. These events might include someone being beaten, shot or held against their will; someone being seriously injured; someone facing or witnessing death; or a number of other traumatic life experiences.

"This is the third such live field training exercise we have conducted in cooperation with AGTS for Chaplaincy training," Jernigan says.

"Previously, we held a simulated motor vehicle accident that was the result of a drunk driver serious injuries and several deaths occurred," Jernigan says, "and the second one, we had an 'active shooter,' where a person became violent and ultimately 'executed' the AGTS president (Dr. Byron Klaus) and took hostages. For that simulation, the Federal Medical Center (located in Springfield) sent us a SWAT team and a hostage negotiation team. Several other entities and emergency services agencies also participated."

Generally speaking, the emergency services chaplain students in Jernigan's class and the students from Cordero's class did not actively participate in the field training exercise. Their challenge was to take in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the 'crisis' and observed how trained chaplains and other responding personnel did their jobs in the midst of a crisis.

Flash mob 3
Paramedics wheel an "injured" bystander out of the AG Theological Seminary lobby to an ambulance, while a sheet covers a shooting "victim."

"It was an overwhelming experience for many of the students," Cordero says. "Many students commented on how there is so much to do. And afterwards, in our classes' review of the event, we discussed the different layers of victims and opportunities for ministry, as it's not just those who are personally caught in a critical incident who are impacted - family members, coworkers, friends and others can also be indirect victims of a crisis event."

"The concepts of Critical Incident Stress Management are one of the areas we cover in our training," Jernigan says. "It is recognized by the United Nations as the 'gold for assisting people (primarily emergency services personnel) who have been through a critical incident."

Jernigan says that there were a number of people, besides the students, who heard about the training and asked to come and observe the event. They included the director of corporate security for Walmart, the regional loss prevention manager from Walgreens and representatives from Greene County Office of Emergency Management. "They all wanted to know what to expect and how to use what they learned to better determine how to prepare and respond in such a crisis," Jernigan says.

In addition to being powerful training tools for the chaplaincy, Jernigan and Cordero have found that these field training events frequently are therapeutic for their students as well.

"Many times we'll have students who, due to the sights and sounds of the live event, will come face-to-face with incidents buried in their past," Jernigan says. "We spent 45 minutes after this exercise debriefing, asking students what they saw, how it affected them, ways they could minister to others in the future, and even what it drew out of them. Numerous students reflected back on their own life experiences, and found discussing them healing."

Cordero and Jernigan agree that through these field training exercises, students become better equipped to empathize with victims as well as understand the critical role they play in helping victims - at many difference levels - heal and recover.

flash mob 4
The "deceased" is carefully removed.

"I also believe that the more prepared our AG districts are to respond following a crisis, whether it be a natural disaster or some act of terrorism, the better we'll be able to actively demonstrate the compassion of Christ to our communities," Cordero adds.

"Assemblies of God Chaplaincy is willing and able to provide emergency response training for churches on a local or on a district level," Worthley says. "This training is a first step for working with their local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) and with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)."

For more information about emergency services chaplain training, contact Jernigan at robbyj@ipa.net. To learn more about AGTS degree programs for chaplains, see the seminary's website. Information about the AG Chaplaincy can be found at chaplaincy.ag.org.

 

Authors: Dan Van Veen

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