Samaritan's Purse

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Samaritan's Purse
Samaritan's Purse.gif
FounderBob Pierce
FocusCrisis relief & development
Area served
MethodDirect aid
Program funding
> US$300,000,000[1]

Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization that provides aid to people in physical need as a key part of 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 one form of the Golden Rule; "love your neighbor as yourself".

Samaritan's Purse works in more than 100 countries around the world. The international headquarters of Samaritan's Purse 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.[2]

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.[3]

As the organization grew, Samaritan's Purse not only funded mission partners but also began to develop its own large-scale relief projects:[citation needed]

Current activities[edit]

The organisation's medical mission in Liberia, West Africa, was one of only two medical NGOs active in Liberia during the beginning of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Samaritan's Purse and SIM USA both have been actively engaged in treating the recent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Liberia. On August 1, 2014, the organisation announced that it was evacuating 60 nonessential personnel from Liberia. Dr. Kent Brantly, a Texas-based doctor working for the organisation, was the first U.S. Citizen to contract the Ebola virus in Liberia while treating the disease. He arrived in the United States on Saturday, August 2, and was treated and subsequently released after nearly three weeks in a special isolation unit of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.[4][5][6][7] The organization recorded their mission in Liberia in the documentary Facing Darkness.[8] Samaritan's Purse also operates aircraft in support of its humanitarian relief efforts including a Douglas DC-8-72CF jetliner and a converted Douglas DC-3 featuring turboprop engines.[9]

Mission statement[edit]

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".[10]

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.

Ongoing programs[edit]

Samaritan's Purse includes several ongoing ministries.

  • 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.

Operation Christmas Child[edit]

Operation Christmas Child was created in 1990 by Dave Cooke and his wife Gill for children in Romania. Each November thousands of churches, schools, groups and individual donors prepare and collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items, and other small gifts. A booklet of bible stories is often distributed alongside the shoebox gifts which are given to children based on need alone, regardless of their faith. These boxes are then distributed overseas by volunteers.[11] As of April 2015, over 124 million boxes have been delivered.[12]

The program uses "follow-up" evangelism[13][14][15] with pamphlets of bible stories that are given to families that receive the boxes,[16] and an organizer for Operation Christmas Child says his goal every day is to "expand [God's] kingdom through Operation Christmas Child."[17]

The "follow-up" evangelism program of Operation Christmas Child is called "The Greatest Journey". It's a 12-week discipleship program for children who receive shoebox gifts.[18]

Operation Christmas Child in the US has over 9,000 year round volunteers and over 100,000 short term volunteers.

The Operation Christmas Child project has been criticized in several countries, most notably in the UK,[19][20] but also in Ireland,[21] India[22] and Canada.[23] In the United States, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has stated that such religion-and-relief groups are "using their position of power to try to persuade people to leave their faith."[24] 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.[25][26] Samaritan's Purse responded by stating that Christian literature was only handed out where it was deemed appropriate.[26]

In October 2014, Samaritan's Purse was criticised in the UK for threatening legal action against the posters of online comments on the discussion forum Mumsnet. The resultant letters prompted one of the busiest discussions on the site's "Am I being Unreasonable" forum.[27]


In the fiscal year ending December 2012, Samaritan's Purse generated over $376 million. Of that amount, 89.3 percent goes directly to projects; 4.3 percent is used for administrative support; and 6.2 percent is spent on fundraising. The organization has received a 4 star rating (out of 4 stars) from the monitoring organization Charity Navigator.[28] The "Consolidated Statement of Activities" section of the organization's 2014 accountant's report lists the total revenue as $520.4 million.[29]

2011 lawsuit[edit]

In 2010, Flavia Wagner and two Sudanese men were kidnapped while working for Samaritan's Purse in Sudan. The two men were released promptly, but Wagner was held for three months. Upon her return to the US, Wagner sued Samaritan's Purse and their security contractor, Clayton Consultants, a hostage negotiation consultancy owned by Triple Canopy, accusing the organization "of failing to train its security personnel adequately and of willfully ignoring warning signs that abductions were a threat to foreigners." The organization settled out of court in March 2012.[30][31]


In March 2001, The New York Times reported that Samaritan's Purse had "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.[32] 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.[33]

In 2003, Samaritan's Purse was widely criticized within the United Kingdom after its president, Franklin Graham, stated that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion",[34][25] leading to opposition campaigns within the United Kingdom by Islamic leaders.[35] Samaritan's Purse responded to accusations of being anti-Islamic by highlighting their long history of non-denominational co-operation and charity work in Baghdad without attempting to preach or proselytize.[36]

Franklin Graham drew scrutiny in 2009 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 (BGEA). This was called 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.[37]) Some experts on non-profits have questioned whether one person can perform two full-time jobs leading organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world.[38] 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.[39] However, Graham was again criticized in 2015 when it was revealed he had again taken up his salary from BGEA, and that his annual compensation was significantly higher than that of the CEO's of similar but much larger non-profit organisations [40]

In August 2013, Thankyou Group announced that it will no longer support Samaritan's Purse because it is not a signatory to the code of conduct run by the Australian Council for International Development, which bans aid as a vehicle for promoting religion or political groups.[41]


  1. ^ Charity Navigator Rating – Samaritan's Purse at
  2. ^ "World Vision Our History". World Vision. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Samaritan's Purse History". Samaritans Purse. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Blinder, Alan (August 2, 2014). "American Doctor With Ebola Arrives in U.S. for Treatment". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  5. ^ Neal, Dale (August 1, 2014). "Samaritan's Purse evacuating 60 from Ebola outbreak". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  6. ^ McCay, Betsey (July 31, 2014). "Peace Corps, Aid Groups Evacuate Personnel From Ebola-Hit West Africa". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  7. ^ Walker, Jade (August 21, 2014). "Kent Brantly, American Doctor Treated For Ebola, To Be Released From U.S. Hospital". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "Facing Darkness movie comes to Canada". Samaritan's Purse Canada. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  9. ^, photos of Samaritain's Purse DC-8 & DC-3 aircraft
  10. ^ "About Us". Samaritan's Purse. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Operation Christmas Child (Fact Sheet)". Samaritan's Purse. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "Can you believe it? Operation Christmas Child celebrates tonight for the 100 million shoeboxes delivered to poor children around the world! Congrats to Reverend Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse everyone who helped and helps". Gretawire. April 6, 2013. Archived from the original on June 12, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "Operation Christmas Child/Children's Evangelistic Rallies" (PDF). Occupying Till He Returns. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. 1998. Thousands of children were touched in 1998 by Operation Christmas Child, a project that ministers to both the physical and spiritual needs of children around the world... In conjunction with the distribution of shoe box gifts, BGEA International Ministries often arranges Children's Evangelistic Rallies, which include a presentation of "The Greatest Gift of All." In this lively program, a young boy learns about God, His creation and His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. At the end of the program, children are invited to become God's friends by accepting the forgiveness He provides through His Son. Trained volunteers meet with each child who responds. Rallies took place in Romania and in hurricane-ravaged Nicaragua and Peru. Total attendance at the rallies was 245,000, with more than 42,000 inquirers.
  14. ^ "Sharing Christ's Love Through Operation Christmas Child" (PDF). Samaritan's Purse 2003 Ministry Report. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 10, 2004. Operation Christmas Child is one of the best evangelistic tools because it is a gift," ministry partner Victor Kulbich said. "It opens the door to telling about Jesus.
  15. ^ "Discover The Greatest Journey". Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. The journey to faith begins when children are offered Gospel storybooks during Operation Christmas Child gift distributions. The most far-reaching impact comes later, when boys and girls are invited to participate in the voluntary Bible study course produced by Samaritan's Purse... The 12-lesson set guides children through a study of who Jesus Christ is, what it means to follow Him, and how to share this exciting message with others. After children complete the program, they are presented with a personalized certificate. To help these boys and girls continue to grow in their faith, we want to provide them with their very own copies of the Greatest Gift of All New Testament. This special edition also includes selected Old Testament stories, a dictionary, and a section that encourages the children to memorize Scripture. All of the materials used for The Greatest Journey are provided at the request of local churches and ministry partners. Millions of boys and girls have indicated that they have committed their lives to Jesus Christ after receiving shoe box gifts and participating in our follow-up program. By sharing their faith one-on-one, these children in turn lead friends and relatives to Jesus ChristCS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  16. ^ Polly Curtis. "Education: Parents angry at evangelicals' charity scheme". the Guardian.
  17. ^ "Christmas in July—and Every Month!". Samaritan's Purse. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015.
  18. ^ "Top 10 Reasons to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox! - Pedro Carrion". Pedro Carrion. November 18, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  19. ^ McCurry, Patrick (December 18, 2002), "Presents imperfect", The Guardian, London, retrieved August 29, 2017
  20. ^ McGreal, Chris (December 12, 2010), "Sarah Palin visits crisis-hit Haiti", The Guardian, London
  21. ^ Healy, Alison (October 2009), "Christmas aid group rejects criticism", The Irish Times
  22. ^ "Uncle Sam may be indirectly funding religious conversion in India". Firstpost.
  23. ^ Parents want Christian charity out of public schools,, November 25, 2002, archived from the original on April 16, 2009
  24. ^ Grossman, Lynn (March 2006), "Billy Graham's son takes the pulpit, his own way", USA Today, retrieved August 29, 2017
  25. ^ a b Muir, Hugh (November 29, 2003), "Co-op cuts Christmas box link with US charity", The Guardian, London, retrieved February 28, 2010
  26. ^ a b BBC News (October 23, 2003), Shoe box charity in religious row, BBC News Online, retrieved August 29, 2017
  27. ^ "Legal News". Private Eye. London. October 17, 2014. p. 13.
  28. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating - Samaritan's Purse". Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  29. ^ "Consolidated Financial Statements and Supplemental Schedules" (April 14, 2015) Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. p. 4 'Consolidated Statement of Activities' Retrieved January 23, 2015. Samaritan's Purse website
  30. ^ "Darfur kidnapping victim sues aid group that sent her". Reuters. May 19, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  31. ^ Rix, Matt (January 29, 2013). "Perspectives: Standard of care rising for employees in threat elevated areas". Business Insurance. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  32. ^ Gonzalez, David (March 8, 2001), "U.S. Aids Conversion-Minded Quake Relief in El Salvador", The New York Times, retrieved February 28, 2010
  33. ^ Gonzalez, David (March 5, 2001), "U.S. Cautions Group on Mixing Religion and Salvador Quake Aid", The New York Times, retrieved February 28, 2010
  34. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (May 8, 2003), "Top Evangelicals Critical Of Colleagues Over Islam", The New York Times, retrieved February 28, 2010
  35. ^ icWales (November 5, 2006), Red-faced MP dumps Islam-bashing charity, retrieved February 28, 2010
  36. ^ Vardy, David (November 18, 2003), "Being good Samaritans", Guardian Unlimited, London, retrieved February 28, 2010
  37. ^ Associated Press, File. "Franklin Graham moves to address concerns about his $1.2 million pay packages". Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  38. ^ Tim Funk; Ames Alexander (October 2009), "Franklin Graham's CEO pay draws experts' criticism", Charlotte Observer, retrieved March 1, 2010[dead link]
  39. ^ Funk, Tim. "CHARLOTTE: Franklin Graham gives up one of two nonprofit salaries | Religion". Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2014.
  40. ^ Tim Funk, Ames Alexander (August 8, 2015). "Franklin Graham takes pay he once gave up". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  41. ^ Battersby, Lucy (August 20, 2013). "Fund-raiser Thankyou Water drops support for evangelical group". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved November 16, 2017.

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