Asheville – Western North Carolina’s Franklin Graham’s Christian evangelical organization, Samaritan’s Purse, reacted to the deepening crisis in Ukraine. On February 24, the organization deployed disaster response specialists to Eastern Europe. The international Christian relief organization began assessing needs on the ground in neighboring countries to Ukraine to determine how they could meet emergency needs. On Friday, March 4, they airlifted an emergency field hospital to Poland, which was then transported overland to Ukraine. Samaritan’s Purse wants to address the urgent medical needs of the many Ukrainians who are suffering and trying to escape with their children from the ravages of this horrific war. The hospital is in the process of being set up, and prayers are requested.
A Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), including doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, as well as set-up personnel and other specialists, were sent to treat patients. They are providing specialized trauma care to those impacted by the conflict. The field hospital is equipped with an operating room (up to 10 surgeries per day), an ICU, an emergency room, a pharmacy and it has its own water and sanitation system. This hospital is run by more than 50 staff (medical and non-medical) and can see as many as 100 patients a day.
Fighting continues to spread and escalate, with deadly violence hitting the capital, Kyiv, and the second-largest city, Kharkiv. Samaritan’s Purse’s DC-8 airplane took off March 4 from Greensboro. It landed in Poland, where the team drove to Ukraine to set up and begin assisting with life-saving medical assistance to those suffering. Their mission is, “To help in Jesus’ name and remind all of God’s love.” Samaritan’s Purse has had disaster response specialists on the ground in Poland, Romania, and Moldova over the years. These specialists are all now working with other organizations, such as the Red Cross and local churches, to find shelter, clothing, food, water and other basic necessities for the refugees.
In addition to medical care, Samaritan’s Purse is preparing to distribute food and non-food items (blankets, toiletries, clothing and other basic necessities) inside Ukraine. Disaster Assistance Response Team members have also begun distributing water and food in Poland as Ukrainian families cross the border. Samaritan’s Purse will continue to assess additional needs in the countries surrounding Ukraine—ready to respond in further capacities to aid displaced and destitute families.
Samaritan’s Purse has a 202,000 square foot warehouse in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, where the ministry is able to store supplies such as medical equipment, tarps and other essential items that are often needed in the wake of disasters. These items are strategically procured, prepared, and stored— allowing Samaritan’s Purse to respond to crises around the globe in a moment’s notice. Thus they have been able to immediately gather needed supplies and fly to Ukraine.
“Ukrainian families are hurting and in desperate need of physical aid and prayer during this difficult time,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are deploying life-saving medical care to aid people who are suffering. We want to meet the needs of these families in their darkest moments while pointing them to the light and hope of Jesus Christ.”
Many in this area are familiar with the distribution of shoebox gifts around the world made by Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1996, the organization has distributed more than 12 million shoebox gifts to children in Ukraine through its Operation Christmas Child program. The organization consistently works in partnership with more than 3,000 churches to share the Hope of Jesus Christ with communities across the country.
A Worldwide International Organization
Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, is the CEO and president of Samaritan’s Purse. The organization also has a large Board of Directors and vice presidents (https://samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/board-of-directors/). There are approximately 800 staff working at the Samaritan’s Purse International Headquarters (IHQ) in Boone, North Carolina. However, Samaritan’s Purse has affiliate offices in Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany and Korea. Additionally, the organization has field offices in 17 countries; and ministry partners in more than 100 countries.
Since 1975, Samaritan’s Purse has used aircraft to transport doctors and relief workers along with tons of food, medicine, shelter materials, blankets and other items to aid victims of natural disasters, war, famine and other emergencies. The aviation arm of Samaritan’s Purse operates 22 aircraft, including two helicopters, which are based in strategic locations around the world. The various aircraft support the organization’s ongoing relief and development work in remote areas and are ready to deploy when disasters strike. There are multiple teams of volunteers and specialists who are on call and are willing to deploy on short notice.
Since its beginning in 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has been able to respond to many crises around the world, such as the Rwandan Civil War in 1990 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This past December, Samaritan’s Purse responded in Arkansas and Kentucky following a deadly outbreak of more than 50 tornadoes that stretched across multiple states. The international Christian relief organization deployed Disaster Response Units—tractor trailers stocked with tools and equipment—to northeastern Arkansas and the Bowling Green and Mayfield communities in Kentucky.
The Mission Statement
“Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (www.samaritanspurse.org.)
There are many avenues to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse, both in the United States and elsewhere. These are listed on their website (www.samaritanspurse.org), giving project description, available dates and other pertinent information. Many service opportunities are available for healthcare professionals. World Medical Mission was established in 1977 to assist general surgeons who wanted to volunteer for short-term mission trips. Today, hundreds of volunteer Christian physicians, dentists and other medical personnel work in mission hospitals and clinics around the world. For further information, contact World Medical Mission at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828 278-1173). Of course, donations are always welcome. Samaritan’s Purse is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charity.