“On the Ground” Podcast Takes Listeners Around the World with Samaritan’s Purse

NRB | April 11, 2024 | Member News

For half a century, Samaritan’s Purse has helped minister to the needs of disaster survivors, victims of war, displaced communities, and others facing crisis—all with the purpose of sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ. This week, Kristy Graham, host of the “On the Ground with Samaritan’s Purse” podcast, spoke with NRB about how Samaritan’s Purse is using podcasting to highlight how God is using their outreach. While their vehicles of ministry change depending on each situation, the mission remains the same: sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with a broken world.

After marrying Edward Graham, son of Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) president Franklin Graham, Kristy got a glimpse of Samaritan’s Purse response work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Graham continued to learn about the ministry by doing remote contact work with donors for two years. Much like her childhood experience with a parent in the U.S. Army, Kristy and Edward moved constantly because of Edward’s military service, priming her to work best while building relationships throughout the world.

In winter of 2018, Edward felt called by the Lord to return home and serve full time at Samaritan’s Purse, settling down with their four kids and giving Kristy even more time for involvement in the ministry.

After asking questions and getting to know the staff and ministry better, Graham saw a missing piece in how Samaritan’s Purse got the word out about their ministry and stories of the people they encountered. Though she had hesitations and doubts, Graham eventually felt confident God had called and equipped her to help start the podcast project in 2019.

“There was already a great team, support, and like-minded people,” Graham said. “It’s also great to hear from the pilots or the national leadership staff…that are doing the daily grind on the ground. We realized the podcast is a great vehicle to share all the different voices.”

Through the audio format, Graham brings the audience inside the multifaceted work of Samaritan’s Purse.

Image courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

One of Graham’s favorite stories came from a series that interviewed people who, as children, had benefited from Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse project that distributes shoeboxes full of donated gifts throughout the world. Yves Dushime received a shoebox as an 11-year-old in Togo, where he and his family finally settled after fleeing from the atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide. The shoebox contained school supplies, a scarf, and a sticky note that simply said, “God loves you. Jesus loves you. I love you.” After the hardship he had experienced, the thought that a stranger loved him softened his heart. Later that year, Yves gave his life to Christ.

“I’m here to encourage those who are packing boxes that their work isn’t in vain; it’s touching real people’s lives,” Yves said in the episode. “The ripple effects are causing the Gospel to seep into communities that have never heard it before.”

“At Samaritan’s Purse, we do help physically, but we know that will fail,” Graham said. “They’re going to need food again the next day. They’re going to need medicine. If we don’t do our work with the Gospel, it’s meaningless and empty. That gives me hope and encouragement, to know that we are giving something that’s lasting.”

Recent episodes included coverage of Samaritan’s Purse operations helping first responders in Israel, recovering treasured belongings in Maui after wildfires, building schools for communities in Cambodia, and providing aid after a deadly earthquake in Turkey. Samaritan’s Purse had a correspondent on the ground in Ukraine just days after the war broke out, bringing listeners to experience the first 72 hours of war zone response.

Image courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

“I like conveying the natural raw work and heart of the Gospel, to just hear from somebody directly, because Samaritan’s Purse has so many vehicles and ways that we bring the Gospel,” Graham said.

The podcast highlights the various aspects of Samaritan’s Purse operations—crisis response, disaster relief, medical care, and more. Each episode is rooted in Scripture to encourage listeners in their own walk with God and to include them in prayer for the Gospel message to prevail to the ends of the earth.

“The news often moves on, but the tragedy does not,” Graham said. “There are places that we’ve been involved where a war is over, but the trauma and the effects last forever.”

She feels honored and privileged to hear and share the stories of people who are in the depths of sorrow and adversity.

“Sometimes being naive is easier, not knowing what’s in the world,” Graham said. “You can see the headlines of Ukraine or Israel and it is hard. But one of the most humbling things is when somebody lets you into the worst part of their life. It’s freeing for them to be able to share it and to be able to be seen and heard and known.”

Kristy speaks with members of their response teams throughout the world and many others who work in the countries where they are involved in ministry. She travels a few times a year, conducts interviews over the phone, and receives recordings from correspondents on the ground involved in Samaritan’s Purse operations.

Image courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

“I love this medium that truly does connect the world and it allows us to hear directly a voice that we may never meet here on earth,” Graham said. “I can’t wait in heaven to hear the full story.”

Samaritan’s Purse is a long-time member of NRB. Billy Graham was inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame in 1981.

Watch and listen to “On the Ground with Samaritan’s Purse” on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify.

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