Edward Graham, army veteran and grandson of the late Evangelist Billy Graham, shared about the amazing work of God through a ministry that reaches out to millions of kids around the world.
Speaking to The Christian Post, Graham said that the pandemic has not stopped the mission of Samaritan Purse's Operation Christmas Child (OCC) to share the love of God to children. He also urged people to join the outreach.
He revealed that despite the challenges caused by COVID lockdowns, the ministry was able to provide shoeboxes containing gifts for nine million children in different countries. He pointed out that it was only made possible through the help of God.
Given the pandemic restrictions set by states and nations, where the shoeboxes would be collected and delivered, respectively, the outreach still turned out to be successful. He was also impressed with the members of the ministry, comprised mostly of volunteers, for making it happen.
When asked why people continued to volunteer in the ministry in spite of the scare presented by the pandemic, Graham replied that it was the idea of Christmas and giving children with the "ultimate gift" of the Gospel that compel volunteers to offer their services. He added that people show up because of their belief that volunteering in the ministry is all "about the Gospel" and knowing that a child somewhere is going to hear about it, fulfilling the Great Commission.
During the pandemic, the army veteran shared that a couple of OCC's staff got sick and hospitalized. But through prayers, both were healed. However, they did lost loved ones, friends and ministry partners to the infection, adding that the virus is "very real."
Nevertheless, he said that the challenge of coronavirus does not mean that people have to live in fear. He disclosed that to fight the pandemic, the Samaritan Purse has set up hospitals in Italy and New York City at the time when the virus hit heavily.
In the same way, the OCC will continue its mission even amidst the difficulty, adding that this is an opportunity "to share the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" to kids who are living in fear.
Graham shared that through the ministry, the Church was also able to minister to the community and pray for the volunteers who are unbelievers. The mission trips might have been canceled but through the OCC, the mission of sharing the Gospel "did not shut off."
For people who have the heart to do humanitarian work but are scared and intimidated, he advised that they just have to take the step and get out of their comfort zone. He argued that he has seen a lot of volunteers in the ministry who have disabilities but their limitations have not hindered them in sharing what they can offer. He cited the disabled soldiers in Alaska who participated in their disaster relief. They have missing legs and arms but were driving and cutting trees for the ministry.
"So that's my hope for people sitting in that pew. Serve first in your local church. That's where I want you serving. And then, if you're feeling a little frisky, why don't you try it once, try Operation Christmas Child or somewhere else in Samaritan's Purse," he added.
For 2021, Graham said that OCC's mission continues, looking to collect 12 million shoeboxes. He encouraged others who have the heart to volunteer to visit Samaritanspurse.org/OCC for further information.
"Coming out of this pandemic, we know these kids have scar tissue, they've been living in fear. We need the church to come alongside and partner with us. Because as I said, each child gets the Gospel presentation," he continued.
Graham also highlighted the relevance of the ministry through OCC's The Greatest Journey, a discipleship program for kids which was able to plant a church in South America.
"Four million kids go through that. Those are kids who are believers and trust Christ, and they're going out and teaching others, as we saw in Mexico. That church is a result of The Greatest Journey and that church plant, so we know it's working," he concluded.