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Franklin Graham's relief work predates coronavirus -- by decades

‘You can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody’

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Relief work is just part of Franklin Graham’s DNA.

Graham, 67, is the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that gives aid to people in need around the world, particularly in times of crisis.

Graham will give an Easter message on Fox News Channel’s “America Together: Keeping the Faith” on Sunday, April 12, in New York City.

“Whenever there's a war, a natural disaster or disease like we have now with the coronavirus, it gives us as Christians an opportunity to help people and to do it in the name of Jesus Christ,” Graham told FOX Business. “And that's kind of the bottom line with us. We want to help people. And we want them to know that God loves them and cares for them. And so we provide assistance during times of crisis.”

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So of course, as the coronavirus made its way around the world, Samaritan’s Purse stepped up to help.

“Part of our capability is that we have mobile hospitals and we have hundreds of doctors and nurses across the United States,” Graham said.

“When the coronavirus hit in Italy, we put together one of our hospitals and we were asked by the Italians if we would be willing to come help,” Graham added. “We took a 68-bed hospital, about 70 staff members and started assisting the Italians in their fight against the coronavirus and had no clue that we would need to be doing this 10 days later here in the United States.”

Samaritan’s Purse sent its first Emergency Field Hospital to Cremona, Italy, on March 17 -- which opened three days later -- and on March 28, the organization sent its second to New York City.

The field hospital opened on April 1 in Central Park, specifically to help with capacity for the Mount Sinai Hospital, according to a press release from Samaritan’s Purse.

The organization has one more, smaller field hospital that it will be taking to Alaska, Graham said, to add capacity in areas where people live in remoter areas and may not have good access to state highways.

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Graham, the elder son of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, started in relief work when he was 18 years old, he said. He was doing construction work for a small mission hospital in northern Jordan, right on the Syrian border.

“I was just impressed with the dedication of these missionary doctors and nurses that would go to these remote parts of the world to help people,” Graham said, adding later: “This whole hospital in Jordan had a big impact on my life and I think that's just kind of how I got started.”

But his roots in relief work go even deeper, he said.

“My grandfather was a missionary doctor to China and my mother was born in China,” he said. “So I think it's just -- it's been part of my DNA.”

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Graham joined Samaritan’s Purse when he was about 22, when the organization’s founder, Dr. Bob Pierce, invited him on a six-week mission to Asia, according to the website.

Several years later, in 1979, Graham became the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse. He is also the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In all his years of relief work, Graham said the most significant thing he’s learned is that “you can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody.”

Franklin Graham is pictured at the Samaritan's Purse diphtheria treatment center in Bangladesh in 2018. (Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse)

“It's those somebodies that you give an account to God for,” he said. “We're going to have to stand before him one day and give an account. He's going to ask, ‘What did you do? Did you help those people that I sent you to?’ And again, we can't help everybody. But it's those somebodies in life that God brings across your path and expects you to do something about it.”

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On Sunday, as people around the world celebrate Easter from their homes, Graham will give a message from the Central Park field hospital, which will be aired on Fox News Channel’s “America Together: Keeping the Faith” program.

“Easter is about God’s love,” Graham said before he recited John 3:16.

“Jesus didn't come to condemn us,” Graham explained. “He came to save us by taking our sins on the cross and dying in our place. And on the third day, God raised him to life. That's what Easter's all about. It’s about Jesus coming from the grave.”

“It’s [also] about forgiveness,” Graham added. “God forgiving sin. That there’s only one way to God and that’s through faith in his son, Jesus Christ.”