By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
January 7, 2021
Samaritan’s Purse is carrying out its mission of providing “Christian relief to a hurting world” much closer to home than usual these days, serving patients suffering from COVID-19 in Lenoir.
Headquartered in nearby Boone, the nondenominational evangelical organization led by Franklin Graham erected a 30-bed emergency field hospital last weekend to help five area hospitals that were becoming overwhelmed with rising case counts.
“We have deployed emergency field hospitals around the world in response to hurricanes, earthquakes and disease,” said Graham in a news release. “Now, it is needed in our backyard. We are grateful we can come alongside North Carolina hospitals in Jesus’ name to care for patients suffering from the coronavirus.”
Graham called for prayers for the team of disaster assistance response specialists including doctors, nurses and support staff from across the country as they prepared to begin treating patients.
“We need to pray daily for front-line medical workers in coronavirus hot spots across the country, and for all those who are sick and suffering from this virus,” he said.
The fourth temporary medical facility set up by Samaritan’s Purse in response to the pandemic will bring relief to hospitals in Caldwell, Catawba, Burke and Watauga counties.
“Anywhere that we go, whether it be in the U.S. or around the world, it’s a privilege to be there and to serve people in their time of need,” Samaritan’s Purse spokesperson Kaitlyn Lahm told The News Topic in Caldwell County.
“Samaritan’s Purse seeks to meet people’s physical needs and to show God’s love in hard times. But to do that in our own backyard hits close to the heart: These are our neighbors, this is our own community, so it’s a blessing to be able to love our own community.”
The organization got a less than friendly welcome from New York City officials earlier this year after responding to a request for help from Mount Sinai Health System. Samaritan’s Purse professionals treated more than 300 New Yorkers between April 1 and mid-May, many of them in a field hospital set up in Central Park. But they faced criticism from the New York City Council, much of it stemming from Samaritan’s requirement that employees and volunteers affirm their belief in Jesus Christ and their support of the Biblical definition of marriage.
“I have always found it strange that people on the political left, especially in places like New York City, say conservative Christians need to do more to help the needy rather than condemn LGBTQ behavior as sinful. But when a Christian organization like Samaritan’s Purse is helping the needy, even serving those who practice homosexuality, they still hate you and want you canceled,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“I’m thankful this spirit isn’t pervasive in North Carolina. Moreover, I pray for the day when it no longer lives in our midst. Christians deeply care for people who are hurting and it can be seen in a thousand forms of ministry, but we believe you can never put the interests of the body above the interests of the soul. Sin alienates us from God and without repentance it finishes in spiritual death. Every kind of ministry to the body, needs to emphasize that being right with God is paramount.”
Graham defended the Samaritan standards regarding a faith and affirmation and opposition to gay marriage saying that they are important to ensure that “our work and our presence is united.”
He said Samaritan’s Purse had never denied care to anyone — overseas or in the Big Apple — because of a difference of belief. Further, New York’s Commission on Human Rights closed its probe into the hospital after finding no evidence of discrimination against patients.