Samaritan’s Purse Press Release: Rev. Graham headed back to Noth Korea

BOONE, N.C., Oct. 9, 2009—Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is preparing to make another historic visit to the DPRK (North Korea) to meet with high-level government officials and visit his ministries’ humanitarian assistance projects.

“I believe it is important to make visits like this to help improve better relations and to have better understanding with each other,” said Graham. “I’m going as a minister of Jesus Christ with a message of peace and that God loves each one of us regardless of our borders or politics.”

This is Graham’s third trip to the country rarely visited by Americans, but his family has a long history in the DPRK, going back to 1934 when his mother Ruth Bell Graham attended a mission school in Pyongyang. His father Billy Graham visited in 1992 and 1994, meeting with President Kim Il Sung. Last year Franklin Graham visited the DPRK to oversee several aid operations and to preach at a newly constructed Protestant church in Pyongyang.

Samaritan’s Purse has been working in the DPRK since 1997, primarily with medical and dental programs, providing more than $10 million in assist ance. Next week, Graham will be making a presentation totaling $190,000 in equipment and supplies for a new dental center being built in Pyongyang. He will also visit a provincial hospital in the countryside where a generator system installed by Samaritan’s Purse in conjunction with USAID is now providing electrical power where none previously existed. Graham also hopes his limited time in the DPRK will allow visits to other hospitals and dental facilities where Samaritan’s Purse has offered assistance during the past twelve years.

Samaritan’s Purse has also recently been involved in several major projects in DPRK. In response to devastating floods in 2007, the Christian relief organization chartered a 747 cargo jet to deliver $8.3 million in medicine and other emergency supplies (and more here). That was the first private flight directly from the United States to the DPRK since the Korean War.

Following Graham’s visit to DPRK he will travel to China where in 2008 Samaritan’s Purse sent a Boeing 747 cargo plane filled with urgently-needed supplies to Chengdu in response to a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that killed 40,000 people. One year after the disaster the N.C.-based organization also airlifted 70 tons of Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts which were hand-delivered to hurting children in that region.

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