|Focus(es)||Crisis relief & development|
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Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that targets people in physical need as a fundamental part of their Christian missionary work. The organization’s president is Franklin Graham, son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham. The name of the organization is based on the New Testament Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus uses a parable to teach people the second great commandment – how to "love your neighbour as yourself".
Samaritan’s Purse works in more than 100 countries around the world. International headquarters are in Boone, North Carolina, with additional U.S. facilities in Charlotte and North Wilkesboro, N.C. Affiliate offices are in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Field offices are located in some 20 countries across five continents.
Bob Pierce founded Samaritan’s Purse in 1970 with a vision “to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches.” Pierce had previously founded World Vision in 1950.
Franklin Graham met Pierce in 1973, and they made several trips together to visit relief projects and missionary partners in Asia and elsewhere. Graham became president of Samaritan's Purse in 1979 following Pierce’s death in 1978.
As the organization grew, Samaritan’s Purse not only funded mission partners but also began to develop its own large-scale relief projects:
- Providing medical care in the midst of conflicts in Somalia in 1993, Rwanda in 1994, Sudan since 1997, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2002, and Iraq in 2003.
- Rebuilding or repairing thousands of houses following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the El Salvador earthquakes in 2001, the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
- Chartering emergency airlifts to Indonesia and Pakistan in 2005, North Korea in 2007, and Myanmar and China in 2008.
- Distributing food to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Uganda and Darfur.
The organization's mission statement states that the organization seeks to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, and famine, with the purpose of global missionary work attendant on humanitarian aid. The organization aims at service for the church worldwide to propagate "the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ".
Samaritan’s Purse seeks to specialize in emergency relief, shelter, water and sanitation, food and nutrition, medical care and public health, HIV/AIDS, and community-based livestock and livelihood projects.
Samaritan’s Purse includes several ongoing ministries.
- Operation Christmas Child – created in 1990 by Dave and Jill Cooke for children in Romania. Each November thousands of churches, groups and individual donors prepare and collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items, and other small gifts. These boxes are then distributed in over 100 countries through national teams of volunteers who are connected locally to the children receiving the gifts.
- Disaster Relief responds to emergency situations.
- World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse, was founded in 1977 by brothers Dr. Richard Furman and Dr. Lowell Furman to enable doctors to serve short-term assignments at overwhelmed missionary hospitals.
- Children’s Heart Project provides surgery for children born with heart defects in countries where proper care is not available.
- Turn on the Tap is a campaign to provide safe drinking water in the developing world.
Samaritan’s Purse generates about $300 million annually. Of that amount, 88 percent goes directly to projects; 5 percent is used for administrative support; and 7 percent is spent on fundraising.
In 2010 Flavia Wagner and two Sudanese men were kidnapped while working for Samritan's Purse in Sudan. The two men were released promptly but Wagner was held for several months. Upon her return to the US Wagner sued Samaritan's Purse and their security contractor alleging that the organization was negligent and did not prioritize Wagner's safety. The organization settled out of court in 2012.
In 2001, The New York Times criticized Samaritan's Purse for having "blurred the line between church and state", in the way it had distributed publicly funded aid to victims of the El Salvador earthquake. Residents from several villages stated they first had to sit through a half hour prayer meeting before receiving assistance. In a statement, USAID said Samaritan's Purse had not violated federal guidelines, but emphasized the need for the organization to "maintain adequate and sufficient separation" between prayer sessions and publicly funded activities.
In 2003, Samaritan's Purse was widely criticized after its president, Franklin Graham, stated that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion", leading to opposition campaigns by Islamic leaders. Samaritan's Purse responded to accusations of being anti-Islamic by highlighting their long history of non-denominational cooperation and charity work in Baghdad without attempting to preach or proselytize.
Franklin Graham has also been criticized in the United States, for drawing a full-time salary from Samaritan's Purse, while at the same time receiving a full-time salary from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This was first seriously drawn into question after his 2008 compensation from both organizations totaled $1.2 million. (Most of this was the result of a new IRS rule that required him to re-report deferred retirement contributions that had already been reported over the previous three years). Some non-profit experts have doubted that one person can do two full-time jobs leading organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world. In response to the questions about his compensation, Graham decided to give up his Salary from BGEA, stating his calling to the ministry, "was never based on compensation." He also had contributions to his retirement plans suspended until the economy bounced back.
The Samaritan's Purse project, Operation Christmas Child, has also been criticized in several countries, most notably in the UK, but also in Canada, the United States, Ireland, and others. In 2003, The British supermarket chain, Co-op, and South Wales Fire Service both suspended their support for the project after numerous complaints about its religious connections. Samaritan's Purse responded by stating that Christian literature was only handed out where it was deemed appropriate.
- Charity Navigator Rating – Samaritan's Purse at www.charitynavigator.org
- ; Nov. 24. 2007.
- Operation Christmas Child UK Alert
- "Darfur kidnapping victim sues aid group that sent her". Reuters. May 19, 2011.
- Olsen, Ted (03.01), "The New York Times Criticizes Samaritan's Purse for Being Too Evangelistic", Christianity Today, retrieved February 2010
- Gonzalez, David (March 8, 2001), "U.S. Aids Conversion-Minded Quake Relief in El Salvador", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010
- Gonzalez, David (March 5, 2001), "U.S. Cautions Group on Mixing Religion and Salvador Quake Aid", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010
- Goodstein, Laurie (May 8, 2003), "Top Evangelicals Critical Of Colleagues Over Islam", The New York Times, retrieved February 2010
- Muir, Hugh (November 29, 2003), "Co-op cuts Christmas box link with US charity", The Guardian (London), retrieved February 2010
- icWales (November 5, 2006), Red-faced MP dumps Islam-bashing charity, retrieved February 2010
- Vardy, David (November 18, 2003), "Being good Samaritans", Guardian Unlimited (London), retrieved February 2010
- Tim Funk; Ames Alexander (October 2009), "Franklin Graham's CEO pay draws experts' criticism", Charlotte Observer, retrieved March 2010[dead link]
- McCurry, Patrick (December 18, 2002), "Presents imperfect", The Guardian (London), retrieved February 2010
- McGreal, Chris (December 12, 2010), "Sarah Palin visits crisis-hit Haiti", The Guardian (London)
- Parents want Christian charity out of public schools, CBC.ca, November 25, 2002, retrieved February 2010[dead link]
- Grossman, Lynn (March 2006), "Billy Graham's son takes the pulpit, his own way", USA Today, retrieved February 2010
- Healy, Alison (October 2009), "Christmas aid group rejects criticism", The Irish Times
- "Shoe box charity in religious row", BBC Online, October 2003, retrieved February 2010
- BBC News (October 23, 2003), Shoe box charity in religious row, BBC News Online, retrieved February 2010