No Strings Attached
May 1, 2003 - David Livingstone, a 19th century Scottish medical missionary, is credited with taking modern medicine to Africa. During his estimated 29,000 miles of trekking throughout the continent, he saw the horrors of the slave trade and took action to abolish it. In India, Mother Teresa quietly lived out the motto of St. Francis of Assisi, who said: "Preach the Gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words."
by Franklin Graham
History clearly shows people of faith assisting the neediest people on Earth, whether a helpless slave, someone suffering from HIV/AIDS or a victim of war or natural disasters. In Africa today, the vast network of mission hospitals and mobile clinics is the backbone of the continent's medical system.
Thirty years ago, I visited Baghdad for the first time. Today, our Christian relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, has a team of Americans, Canadians, Iraqis, Jordanians and Lebanese positioned in Jordan, just a few hours' drive from the Iraqi border, waiting to provide aid to the thousands of victims, regardless of religion, race or politics.
Our team is made up of veterans of war-relief projects in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Rwanda and Somalia and includes a doctor, an engineer and a water specialist. Funded by volunteer donors, they will be able to quickly provide clean drinking water to 20,000 people, temporary shelters for 4,000 families and medical supplies for 100,000 Iraqis.
Though our organization has done many projects in Iraq, our latest intentions to carry aid into the country have been questioned by some who accuse us of using this merely as an excuse to seek new converts. So why do we do it? And should we do it, especially in a country like this, at a time like this?
Like Livingstone, Mother Teresa and millions of others throughout the ages, we draw our motivation for such work from the greatest physician and relief worker who ever lived—Jesus Christ. Though our work is offered to all people in need, it is our faith that motivates and compels us to action. When we have been blessed with abundant resources and have an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives, should we withhold that aid just because we are people of faith?
During His years on Earth, Christ never passed by anyone in need. And for 2,000 years, followers of Christ have been stopping along the ditches and gutters of life's road, extending a hand to those who have fallen victim to tragedy.
Samaritan's Purse offers physical assistance to those who need it, with no strings attached. We don't have to preach in order to be a Christian relief organization. Sometimes the best preaching we can do is simply being there with a cup of cold water, exhibiting Christ's spirit of serving others.
I imagine that those who may be starving or in need of emergency medical attention in Iraq would not debate the appropriateness of faith-based relief assistance. For it just may be an ambassador of Christ, not of the United Nations, who holds the lifesaving hope for thousands of desperate Iraqis. We intend to be there with outstretched arms.