Franklin Graham Update October

Helping Survivors

of Hurricane Ian

Samaritan's Purse volunteers clearing out a home. Samaritan's Purse volunteers clearing out a home.

Dear Friend,
Ian was the deadliest hurricane to hit the U.S. since Katrina, taking more than 100 lives and leaving entire towns uninhabitable. Not only were barrier islands devastated by the fierce Category 4 storm, but so were working-class neighborhoods and modest retirement villas farther inland on the Florida Peninsula.

I've seen a lot of hurricanes over the years, but the scope of the destruction in Florida is overwhelming. The Fort Myers area has been through hurricanes before, including three in 2004, but none with this scale of damage. When Ian veered off its forecast course, it was too late for people to evacuate. One survivor described the relentless flooding as "a tsunami of mud and water."

When I went to Fort Myers, I met a family who rode out the storm in their attic, spending six terrifying hours up there, trapped by the churning water that filled the house and afraid that the 150 mph gusts might rip off the roof. With nowhere to escape, they are thankful that God protected them.

Franklin Graham visiting Fort Myers, Florida

Now they are dealing with unimaginable loss. The mom, Kay Alvarez, was recently widowed, and now she has to say goodbye to a houseful of mud-soaked keepsakes. Her adult daughter, Shelley Dolloff, was touched by the compassion of orange-shirted Samaritan's Purse volunteers and described them as angels. "I can't believe that people who aren't our neighbors and don't even know us are willing to help us," Shelley said. "I don't know what we would have done without them."

We praise God for more than a thousand volunteers who served with Samaritan's Purse in our first week there, including the Legendarios, a group of Hispanic Christian men from Florida.

Samaritan's Purse has set up our Disaster Relief Units at churches in Fort Myers, Englewood, and Punta Gorda. We are going to need an army of volunteers in the weeks and months ahead to help families clean up and begin the process of returning home. If you or your church can help, please sign up at spvolunteer.org. You don't need construction skills—just a willingness to work hard, get dirty, and help our neighbors in the Name of Jesus. We provide the tools, meals, and a place to stay in a church facility.

A Samaritan's Purse volunteer sawing a tree.
Lots of uprooted trees need to be chainsawed, roofs need tarps, and muddy and moldy debris needs to be cleaned out of houses to get them ready for repairs. One woman named Diane worried that the mold in her house might aggravate her husband's heart disease, so she was especially thankful that our volunteers gutted the house down to the stud walls and sanitized the structure.

A survivor named Elaine needed several fallen trees cut from around her house and a tarp on the shredded roof. "I prayed through the storm," she said. "I didn't know how I was going to clean all of this up and get my roof fixed. But God knew, and he sent this orange army to help me."

Volunteers are working in challenging conditions—including humid weather and piles of moldy debris—but when Christians show up to help our neighbors in the Name of Christ, it's a great comfort to believers and a powerful witness to the lost. In the first week Samaritan's Purse was on the ground, several survivors prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Edward Graham comforts a homeowner affected by the hurricane.

As volunteers complete each job, they sign a Bible for the residents and point out comforting Scriptures. One first-time volunteer marked the 46th Psalm: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2).

Many of Ian's victims are retirees living on fixed incomes, and some are not fully insured, so they desperately need our help. Please keep these families and our volunteers in your prayers.

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It's Shoebox Time: Sharing God's Love Worldwide

When Samaritan's Purse launched Operation Christmas Child in 1993, we started with just a few thousand shoeboxes collected by a church in Charlotte, North Carolina. From that humble beginning, we've come a long way by God's grace. This year we are looking forward to a milestone when we will ship our 200 millionth shoebox gift.

Franklin Graham handing out Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Mongolia
GOOD NEWS, GREAT JOY; On a recent trip to preach the Gospel in Mongolia, I had the opportunity to hand out Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to these precious children.

We began this project not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. And in Ukraine right now, it still feels like the Cold War. Even in towns that have been liberated, many families will not be able to purchase Christmas gifts for their children. As Samaritan's Purse works to help these families survive the coming winter, we are planning to hand out hundreds of thousands of shoebox gifts to Ukraine, and millions more in over 100 countries worldwide.

When people like you pack shoebox gifts, you give us opportunities to share the hope of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

A Ukrainian pastor and smiling children hold their Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
DOUBLE REFUGEES: These children fled with their family from Afghanistan and settled in Ukraine, only to be caught up in another war. This Ukrainian pastor gave them Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and earned a hearing for the Gospel.

In eastern Ukraine, one of our church partners received over 400 refugees from towns under attack. Among them were some refugees from Afghanistan who had previously fled to Ukraine to escape the fighting in their homeland. The local pastor gave shoebox gifts to the children and with their father's permission, shared the Gospel message. The Afghan family later relocated to Germany. The pastor was thankful to have this opportunity to plant seeds for the Gospel and is praying that the gifts will bear the fruit of salvation in Christ.

In Moldova, one of the countries that welcomed Ukrainian refugees, the Lord used shoebox gifts to revive a small church. The congregation had dwindled to a just a few elderly adults with no children. Then the church invited 150 boys and girls from the town to receive shoebox gifts, presented the Gospel to them, and invited the children to participate in The Greatest Journey, the discipleship lessons Samaritan's Purse offers for children who receive shoebox gifts. Dozens of children and their parents began coming to the church, and a new Sunday school was started. "The word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).

A smiling child from the Himba tribe holding their Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
In the African nation of Namibia, the Himba tribe was unreached by the Gospel until nearby churches brought shoebox gifts. As the children and their parents heard about Christ, many received Him as their Lord and Savior, and villagers soon began meeting under a tree for worship. Samaritan's Purse helped this new congregation construct a sanctuary, where they invite their neighbors to join them in worship.

In Brazil, in a rainforest not far from the Amazon River, a 9-year-old boy had been promised a toy if he followed a gang and accepted their tattoo. When he received a shoebox gift and heard the Gospel, he discovered that following Jesus is entirely different. He told a church worker, "The mark that Jesus puts on us doesn't hurt, because His love is perfect."

In a closed country in Asia, the Lord used Operation Christmas Child to demonstrate His love in a village where many people were possessed by demons. The elders were suspicious of preachers but allowed a nearby church to hand out shoebox gifts. More than 140 children heard the Good News, and 80 of them signed up for The Greatest Journey.

We developed The Greatest Journey to multiply the evangelistic impact of Operation Christmas Child. The 12-lesson course explains Biblical principles in ways that children can easily understand. Since 2010, more than 15 million boys and girls enrolled in The Greatest Journey have prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. Praise God!

Operation Christmas Child is in the hands of churches from the time we collect shoebox gifts to the time we hand them out. The gifts are packed not only in America but also in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Finland, Spain, Australia, and South Korea.

This ministry would not be possible without people like you who faithfully and generously pack shoebox gifts. When you pack a box, please include your photo and note to the child who will receive your gift. This means so much to the children. Even if they don't speak English, our church partners can explain that this is who their gifts come from.

Two smiling girls holding their Greatest Journey workbooks

People sometimes ask us what is the most important thing to put into a shoebox gift. It's nice to include a gift that will wow a child, but the most important thing you can put into a shoebox is your prayers for the child who will open it. We look forward to seeing how God will answer those prayers as your gifts travel around the world.

Thank you for your prayers and support for Samaritan's Purse as we work in the Name of Jesus Christ to help those who are hurting. May God richly bless you.

Sincerely,
Franklin Graham

Two girls grinning while holding their Operation Christmas Child boxes and toys.
Ways to Help

Ways You Can Help

Pray

Please pray for the hurricane victims in Florida. Ask the Lord to use our disaster relief ministry and Operation Christmas Child to open doors for sharing the hope of salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

U.S. DISASTER RELIEF
If you or your church can volunteer to help the hurricane victims in Florida, go to spvolunteer.org to sign up. Your financial gift will equip our teams to put tarps on roofs, cut fallen trees, clean out flood-damage houses, remove debris, and share the hope of the Gospel.
U.S. Disaster Relief
013622
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Give
The Greatest Journey
The Greatest Journey® is a series of discipleship lessons that Samaritan's Purse offers in multiple languages for children who have received Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. Lessons, teacher training, and a Bible for each graduate cost $6 per child, or $90 for a class of15.
OCC—The Greatest Journey
013943
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Where Most Needed
Samaritan's Purse stands ready to respond immediately to hurricanes and other emergencies. Your gift to "Where Most Needed" equips us with the resources--including personnel, materials, supporting services, and equipment--to fulfill our mission of relief and evangelism worldwide.
Where Most Needed
012000
$
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