Franklin Graham Dedicates New Midwest Ministry Center

December 2, 2023 • United States

Samaritan’s Purse president celebrates and prays over new facility in Aurora, Illinois.

Today, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham welcomed hundreds of guests to our Midwest Ministry Center in Aurora, Illinois, to dedicate the new property to the Lord’s service. The 116,000 square-foot facility will serve as a staging area for our disaster relief operations in the region while also housing a permanent Operation Christmas Child processing center.

Franklin Graham encouraged volunteers and visitors at our new Midwest Ministry Center in Aurora, Illinois.

Franklin Graham encouraged volunteers and visitors at our new Midwest Ministry Center in Aurora, Illinois.

“The Midwest Ministry Center is more than just office and warehouse space,” said Graham. “It is a facility that can serve as our base of operations when disasters strike nearby, and this ministry center will also help us share Christmas joy and the hope of Jesus Christ with even more children around the world.

“When we have any new facility that the Lord gives us, we always want to take time to dedicate it. That’s what we want to do today—dedicate this building, these facilities, to the Almighty God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Graham said.

Tommy Coomes Band led worship and sang Christmas carols, and three local pastors prayed prayers of dedication—Chris Brown, missions pastor at Spring Creek Church; Ben Chambers, community outreach pastor at Christ Community Church; and Andy Thomaston, missions pastor at Wildwood Church.

Three local pastors prayed during the dedication event.

Three local pastors prayed during the dedication event.

Samaritan’s Purse has been working in the Chicago area to prepare Operation Christmas Child gift-filled shoeboxes for international shipment since 2019. From that time, more than 18,000 volunteers have processed 1.5 million shoebox gifts for children in need around the world. With the new permanent processing center, the area is poised to process millions more shoebox gifts for global delivery in the years ahead.

This year alone, the new center expects to process many hundreds of thousands of shoebox gifts, which will be sent to the Caribbean, South America, and various hard-to-reach places that cannot be named for security reasons. All of this is made possible by a team of over 7,000 volunteers.

The new Samaritan's Purse Midwest Ministry Center becomes a hive of activity during Operation Christmas Child shoebox season.

The new Samaritan’s Purse Midwest Ministry Center becomes a hive of activity during Operation Christmas Child shoebox season.

“As you handle the boxes here and sort them and put them in cartons and so forth, pray,” Graham told processing center volunteers. “Pray for the child that’s going to get that box. We never know how God is going to use that box. We’ve had fantastic stories of what God can do with a box.

“We’re just thankful for every box, every volunteer, every family, every church. Every box is an opportunity for the Gospel. It’s an opportunity. It gives us an opportunity to preach and proclaim the Gospel, and we’ll have about 650,000 boxes or so that will come through this facility this year.”

Today there were volunteers from 10 different states working in the Midwest Ministry Center. The shoeboxes processed on this day of dedication are headed to Paraguay.

New Opportunities to Help in Jesus’ Name

Starting this year, our Midwest Ministry Center will also host the assembly of all the boxes packed through Build a Shoebox Online. In January and February of 2024, we prayerfully anticipate welcoming over 6,000 volunteers to fulfill the orders for over 320,000 shoeboxes built online in 2023.

“Everything that we do whether it’s here, whether it’s Israel, or Ukraine, we want to do it in Jesus’ Name,” Graham told the Aurora audience. “We want to lift up the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son who came to this earth to take our sins and He died and shed his blood on the cross for our sins. He was buried for our sins and on the third day God raised his son to life. Jesus Christ isn’t dead, He’s alive.”

Tommy Coomes Band led worship and carols.

Tommy Coomes Band led worship and carols.

The Midwest Ministry Center is located just minutes from picturesque Naperville as well as Wheaton College where Graham’s parents—the late Rev. Billy and Ruth Bell Graham—met. Volunteers are needed annually at this location and seven others around the country to inspect the millions of shoebox gifts collected and ensure they are ready to be shipped overseas. Learn more about serving here.

Join us in praising God for giving Samaritan’s Purse a permanent ministry presence in the Midwest and ask Him to bless all the operations of the new facility.

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