The novel coronavirus pandemic is the “result” of sin that exists in a “fallen world” that has “turned its back on God,” conservative evangelical leader Franklin Graham said.
Graham, president of the Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, spoke with Fox News’ Jeannie Pirro on Saturday for an interview that mostly focused on the emergency field hospital Samaritan’s Purse is operating in New York City’s Central Park.
In New York City, there are over 67,551 confirmed cases of the virus with over 3,048 related deaths as of Monday afternoon, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Nationally, there are over 338,995 cases of coronavirus with over 10,000 deaths, and over 1.3 million cases and 72,638 related deaths worldwide.
“This pandemic, this is a result of a fallen world, a world that has turned its back on God,” Graham said in the interview. “So I would encourage people to pray and let’s ask God for help.”
Toward the end of the interview, Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by Pirro if he gets questions from a lot of people wondering: “Why would God allow this kind of thing to happen?”
“I don’t think that God planned for this to happen,” he responded. “It’s because of the sin that's in the world. Man has turned his back against God. We have sinned against Him. We need to ask for God’s forgiveness.”
“That’s what Easter is all about it,” Graham, who also leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, continued. “It’s about God so loving the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but should have everlasting life.”
He assured that “Christ came to save sinners” and “save the world.”
“If we put our faith and trust in Him, He’ll forgive our sins and heal our hearts and He’ll change the course of our lives,” Graham added.
The evangelist has long warned that sin is being glorified in American society and that God’s judgment could be coming for embracing things like same-sex marriage or abortion. During the 2016 election cycle, Graham held “Decision America” tour rallies across the United States to encourage people to let biblical values inspire their votes.
Earlier in the interview with Pirro, Graham admitted that no one ever thought Samaritan’s Purse would ever need to set up a field hospital in the heart of New York City.
On April 1, the organization opened a 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit that was designed to care for people suffering from COVID-19 in New York City. The unit is staffed with over 70 doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Additionally, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are there to minister to the sick and staff.
The unit includes 10 intensive care unit beds. Patients are coming to the field hospital from its partner, Mount Sinai Health System.
“We never thought we would be in New York City, that’s for sure,” Graham admitted. “These tents are state-of-the-art mobile hospitals.”
Samaritan’s Purse also operates a 68-bed emergency field hospital outside of Cremona Hospital in Northern Italy, just outside of Milan.
In Italy, there have been over 132,000 cases and over 16,523 deaths as of Monday afternoon. Graham said that what’s happening in the U.S. is “very similar” to what is happening in Italy.
“I believe that we are probably about two weeks behind where Italy is,” he said. “We are hoping that we will see it kind of plateau in Italy in the next few days. At least that is what the predictions are.”
Graham called on people across the globe to pray for God’s protection and that “God’s hand would release us from this pandemic.”
“This is a very serious situation,” he said. “We need God’s help. Of course, in Central Park, our doctors and nurses are Christian men and women. We pray for our patients. We have chaplains there to pray for our patients. We care for everybody that comes in. And of course, we want people to know that God loves them and He hasn’t forgotten them. We are there to care for them in Jesus’ name."
Dr. K. Elliott Tenpenny, the leader of the Samaritan's Purse response team in New York City, told The Christian Post in an interview last week that the coronavirus is not something to "think this is the end of the world."
"[B]ut it is not something that’s also to dismiss,” Tenpenny said. “It’s serious. It’s a serious disease. It’s not the end of the world. We’re going to make it through this, but it is serious and anyone that says differently I don’t believe they’re speaking truthfully.”