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    In the midst of the din that was Velocity, Saturday night at the Billy Graham Mission, an impromptu meeting of sorts took place where second base usually sits. Various members of the Mission Executive Team found themselves together asking the same question: What next?

    It’s a good sign that even before Mr. Graham had begun his journey on to Oklahoma City; local leadership was struck with the importance of continuing what he began by coming to San Diego in the first place.

    One member of the team at second base, Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Wesleyan Church, and chair of the Pastors’ Rapid Response Team, sees the initial follow-up to Mission San Diego as having three key parts. First and foremost, the role of the local church reaching out to those who came forward in response to Mr. Graham’s call is essential. “The local churches are the ground forces,” he described. Their follow-up will be critical in the effort to embrace the 17,000-plus who accepted the invitation.

    Part two, however, is a “macro view,” according to Garlow. “We have to find a way to preserve the incredible unity we’ve been given. Unity is a precious gift, and should be treated like a treasure, and watched over.”

    Support and cooperation amongst area churches has been one of the oft-cited phenomenons of this Billy Graham Mission. More local churches came together, working as one body, than any mission/crusade in the history of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. “The support has been incredible among pastors,” continued Garlow. “It’s really been fearfully committed to lifting the name of Jesus, and God’s honored that. And so we’ve got to focus on making sure we maintain that.”

    Pastor Garlow feels that the Pastors’ Prayer Group, renamed the Pastors’ Rapid Response Team, can play an important role in maintaining the Mission’s momentum, as well as creating a new area of ministry for area clergy.

    Initially, the Pastor’s Rapid Response Team will begin its efforts in training both pastors and lay people in emergency preparedness. Citing the plans of emergency workers and the military, Garlow notes the role of strategic planning. “If they have strategies to sustain people physically, why shouldn’t pastors and churches have strategies to sustain the family of God spiritually?”

    Working with Mickey Stonier of Horizon Christian fellowship and Ray Giunta of Sacramento, a former pastor and now involved full-time in pastoral training, the Pastor’s Rapid Response Team will emphasize mobilization and assistance. Training will also include establishing a close-knit communication network among pastors, “so there’s instant communication whether it’s two o’clock in the morning or whatever.”

    Emergency preparedness is a concern of the Billy Graham organization, as well. Garlow and other local leaders will attend the organization training entitled, His Presence in Crisis – Appropriate Evangelism Training to Enhance the Zest for Preparedness.

    Finally, Pastor Garlow would like to see the Pastor’s Emergency Response Team enhance the church’s outreach mission to the community itself. “We could have several hundreds of pastors trained and certified to go under the yellow tape,” he described, “and into the hearts of people – having been full credentialed and fully trained both under secular credentialing agencies and to be spiritually equipped.”

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