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November 2009

The Samaritan's Purse

Every November for several years now we have collected shoeboxes of toys for deprived children in the Operation Christmas Child initiative but I wonder how many of us know very much about its parent organisation Samaritan’s Purse. Here, from their website is some information about how it all began and where it is today:

Global History
"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

Bob Pierce wrote these now-famous words in his Bible after visiting suffering children on the Korean island of Kojedo. This impassioned prayer is what guided him as he founded and led the ministry of Samaritan's Purse in 1970. His mission for this organisation was "to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches".

After World War II, Bob Pierce travelled throughout Asia as an evangelist and journalist with Youth For Christ. While on a university lecturing circuit in China, he stumbled across some courageous women who were living among leprosy sufferers and orphans, sacrificing everything to share the love of Jesus Christ. Through their selfless love, God gave Pierce a vision for ministry. He dedicated himself to finding and supporting other such Christians who were caring for the poor and suffering in the distant corners of the world.

In the summer of 1973, Bob Pierce met his eventual successor, an adventurous young student named Franklin Graham with a growing heart for world mission. Intrigued by his many stories from the field, Franklin began to spend more and more time with the seasoned Christian statesman. In 1975, he accompanied Bob on a life-changing tour of some of the world's neediest mission fields. God had captured his heart for mission.

Bob Pierce died of leukemia in 1978, and nearly 18 months later, Franklin Graham became the President and Chairman of the Board of Samaritan's Purse. Through almost 30 years of earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, and famine, Franklin has led the ministry in following the biblical example of the Good Samaritan all across the globe. God has blessed the organisation under Franklin's leadership, and the ministry has seen explosive growth.

Our UK History

Samaritan’s Purse UK was launched by the legendary Dr. Billy Graham in 1990 following his visit to Scotland. After just twelve months, Samaritan’s Purse UK had a support base of over four thousand people from a cross-section of individual Christians and churches in the UK.

In 1995, Operation Christmas Child, a Wrexham-based children’s charity, announced its merger with Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1995, the organisation has gone from strength to strength – starting new development initiatives in Africa and Central Asia as well as being part of the global Samaritan’s Purse response to humanitarian disasters such as the Darfur Crisis, the South Asian Tsunami, the Pakistan Earthquake, the Myanmar Cyclone and the China Earthquake.

Since 2006, we have also launched new campaigns – including Turn on the Tap, Positive Impact and Alive to Thrive - to enable individuals, churches, schools and businesses in the UK to become part of our work overseas.

Today, we are one of the top fifty UK charities by income size and part of a number of national and international networks, including BOND, End Water Poverty, StopAIDS and Evangelical Alliance/Global Connections.

No matter where we go or what we do, we offer more than help. We offer hope. To suffering people in a broken world, we share the news of the only One who can bring true peace—Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Up to date report on some of our work
Conditions remain desperate in Padang, Indonesia, after the area was rocked by two powerful earthquakes. The first quake of 7.6 magnitude hit the city, the capital of West Sumatra followed by an aftershock of 6.2 magnitude. These were felt in countries as far as Malaysia and Singapore.

Authorities have said they have little hope of finding more survivors, and they expect the number of dead to rise significantly in coming days as crews work to remove rubble. Official estimates list the number of houses damaged as 179,629.

A Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), including Jonathan Hett and Peter Ivermee from the UK, is on the ground in Padang.

The team has begun purchasing emergency supplies for distribution. These include plastic sheeting for 1,000 temporary shelters; 1,000 tool kits; 1,000 blankets; 1,000 hygiene kits; and 1,000 food parcels. Tool kits include saws, hammers, gloves, shovels, boots, and nails. Food parcels include bread, sugar, salt, and salt fish. Hygiene kits include soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, and combs.

The team is currently focusing its efforts on the harder-to-reach mountainous region, 3 ˝ hours away from Padang. To date, very little aid has made its way through to these villages, due to difficult road conditions and landslides. The team visited one location where a landslide had killed approximately 200 people who were attending a wedding, also meeting a woman who had seen her relatives literally swept away as her house was destroyed by another landslide.

The team have managed to secure a helicopter and are planning a more significant distribution of food and tool kits in the coming days.

Jonathan Hett, Head of Programmes and Projects for Samaritan’s Purse UK states: ‘There is a huge challenge to know how best to target our limited resources. Please pray that the Lord would lead and direct as we make connections and discern the right way forward.’

In addition, the DART Team are currently assessing the need for clean water in the worst-hit areas and are working out an effective response to this.

Ways you can help
• That people would get the help they need as quickly as possible
• For our teams in Indonesia, as they show the compassion of Christ to survivors
• For wisdom in determining the most effective response to these disasters
• Share this story with a friend or relative and encourage them respond in some way too; you might even want to email them the URL link to this story

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