A benefit concert co-hosted by actors Kirk Cameron and his sister, Candace Cameron Bure, has raised over $1.6 million for Samaritan’s Purse which has been operating field hospitals in northern Italy and New York City during the COVID-19 crisis.
The siblings were joined by Bishop T.D. Jakes, Franklin Graham, and Gloria Gaynor among other well-known Christian artists and leaders for the online event on Sunday called Hope Rising that drew an estimated 10 million viewers, according to the event’s creator Ryan Higgins of The Tempus Collaborative.
“It’s important to know 100% of the money raised went to Samaritan’s Purse for their ongoing COVID-19 work,” Higgins said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
“Amazingly we were able to do it entirely free, which has to have set some type of record. We’ve heard that Hope Rising is now the largest streaming Christian concert of all time, a feat none of us thought was even possible just two weeks ago when the planning began,” he added.
Hope Rising livestreamed on Facebook Sunday night to benefit Samaritan's Purse which set up field hospitals in both New York City and Cremona, Italy, to provide medical support to hospitals caring for patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The aim of the event was to uplift, strengthen and comfort those watching online through music and inspirational messages to combat the fear, hopelessness, and anxiety that some are feeling during the lockdown.
Other artists and speakers who participated in the hour-and-a-half event included: Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, for King and Country, Kirk Franklin, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes, Danny Gokey, and speakers Kristen Chenoweth, Lysa TerKeurst, and Priscilla Shirer, among others.
“I am thankful for the many musicians and speakers who participated, for those who tuned in and were encouraged, for the generosity of so many who dug deep and gave to support this worthy cause. The commitment and dedication of my executive producers Kirk Cameron, Matt Hammitt, and Daniel Zapata were invaluable. And I’m especially grateful to Samaritan’s Purse for choosing to be at the forefront when we can’t,” Higgins said.
During the event, Higgins introduced Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, who offered a message of encouragement for those watching.
"COVID-19 has become a reality that no one could ignore, not the rich, not the famous, not the poor, not the homeless, not those that live in mansions to those that live in shelters. We have all been brought down to the same common denominator that we are all in some way vulnerable, black and white and red and brown, and rich and poor and large and small. It does not matter the distinctions, millennial or Boomer, we are all somewhat vulnerable," Jakes said of the common fears that people are feeling.
The megachurch pastor revealed that negativity is not the only effect the coronavirus has had on the world.
"There's also the awareness that it has brought us to a place of unity and togetherness and cohesiveness. That is, to me, the answer it is the serum, it is the magic elixir that we're all looking for," he said. "As strong as COVID-19 might be, unity in 2020 is stronger than anything COVID-19 can do. And I challenge you, if we stand together, we are better together than we are apart."
Jakes urged everyone to combine their talents and gifts and come out of this stronger than ever.
"If we live up to the tenants of our faith, then nothing out of the pits of Hell and nothing, no biological enemy, will ever be able to destroy what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” he declared.
He challenged everyone in the midst of the "terror and the pain and the grief and the loss and the uncertainty and the joblessness and the failing economy" to stand under the banner of Christ.
"Faith is the substance of the thing we hope for. And yes, it is evidence of things we have not seen. We will see it if we stand together,” Jakes declared.