By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – American evangelist Franklin Graham urged prayers for residents in Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Missouri, where scores died in the worst tornadoes in years.
“By early Saturday morning, tornadoes across these states killed more than 80 people, and that number could be rising,” he said in a statement obtained by Worthy News.
Graham said he told Christians that those living there “desperately need your prayers right now.”
The evangelist stressed that the “biggest need right now is spiritual.” He added that “We’re sending Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains” named after his late father.
They arrive with two “Mobile Ministry Centers—to go in and pray with people, to put their arms around them and comfort them,” he added.
Franklin Graham asked supporters to “Please pray that God will bind up broken hearts.”
HOPE IN CHRIST
Referring to Bible verse Isaiah 25:4, he said he hopes that “many will come to know Jesus Christ,” who is “a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm.”
His organization is also raising financial support for its relief work in troubled areas.
Graham’s appeal came amid concerns about Kentucky, the worst-hit state by far in the unusual mid-December swarm of twisters across the Midwest and the South.
The tornadoes leveled entire communities and left at least 14 people dead in four other states.
The hardest hit were workers on the night shift at Mayfield Consumer Products who, in the middle of the holiday rush, cranked out candles when a tornado closed in on the factory.
When the word went out: “Duck and cover,” Autumn Kirks pulled down her safety goggles and took shelter, tossing aside wax and fragrance buckets to make room.
She told reporters she glanced away from her boyfriend, Lannis Ward, and when she looked back, he was gone.
Governor Andy Beshear initially said Saturday that only 40 of the 110 people working in the factory at the time were rescued.
But on Sunday, the candle company said that while eight were confirmed dead and eight remained missing, more than 90 others had been located.
Yet, by the time churchgoers gathered Sunday morning to pray for the lost, more than 24 hours had elapsed since anyone had been found alive in the wreckage.
Instead, crews recovered pieces of peoples’ lives with a backpack, a pair of shoes, and a mobile phone containing 27 missed messages among the items, The Associated Press news agency reported.
Dozens of people in several Kentucky counties were still believed to have died in the storms. Residents in other states also struggle amid misery and hope.
However, “We are praying that maybe original estimates of those we have lost were wrong. If so, it’s going to be pretty wonderful,” Governor Beshear said.
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