An American pastor who has seen the destruction of Christian cities in the Middle East first hand, says Franklin Graham's nonprofit organizations have poured millions of dollars into the region to provide humanitarian aid to those who are displaced or critically injured, and questions if any of Graham's critics have done the same.
Pastor William Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, New York, who recently spoke with The Christian Post about the devastation left behind by the Islamic State terror group in Qaraqosh, Iraq, continues to question why pastors who are eager to preach about the End Times are not doing more to help in the Middle East.
"What is sadly curious about the already arrived Armageddon of the destruction of the Christian faith is the response of the western Church. Many of the dispensational leaning evangelical churches in the U.S. have for years preached and taught widely about the coming Apocalypse, the Last Days," Devlin said.
"Yet, in multiple journeys to the Middle East over the past 10 years, in those areas where Christian persecution is heaviest, evangelicals appear to be silent. There are prayers offered, monies given, but what Middle Eastern Christians need the most is our presence and our voice," he added.
Devlin, who is also president of REDEEM, which provides funds to persecuted people across the world, said it's also important to remember Christians who are suffering in war-torn areas, along with pastors who are being murdered, and churches and lives that are being destroyed.
"Didn't our brother James say, 'Faith without works is dead?' When I personally in writing or verbally invite Western pastors to travel with me, I receive a standard reply: 'Is it safe there?' To which I reply, 'The call of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28 and Acts 1 never gives provision for safety, security nor comfort!'"
He continued: "Will we as the western Church be known in our legacy that because of our silence and our refusal to go — the first two letters in God are 'go'; the first two letters in Gospel are 'go'; and the first two letters in Good News are 'go' — so what are we waiting for? The Church in the East was extinguished!"
Devlin said that two weeks ago he met with the Christian representative to the Kurdistan Regional Government, Khalid Jamal Alber, who had a picture of himself with Graham.
"He said Franklin has poured $45 million to assist the IDPs in Kurdistan. I wondered how much critics of Franklin have poured into Kurdistan? I know Franklin was recently trashed by some pastors in Vancouver, Canada, and Norway," Devlin said.
Graham spent his Easter weekend in Qaraqosh, advocating and providing relief for persecuted Christians there.
"I visited a church that had been burned and destroyed by ISIS and met with the pastor. Incredibly, in the ashes and debris, we discovered one of our Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that had been given to a child there at some point. I couldn't help but wonder where the child who received this box is today," Graham said in April.
In February, more than 30 prominent evangelicals, Catholics and Mainline Protestants in Vancouver signed a letter expressing their deep concern at Graham's visit there at the time.
"Our concern is that the contentious and confrontational political and social rhetoric that Mr. Graham has used has the potential to overshadow the message of Jesus and incite hostility in our highly charged social climate," the letter stated.
"(Graham) has made disparaging and uncharitable remarks about Muslims and the LGBT community, while portraying the election, administration and policies of U.S. President Donald Trump as intrinsically aligned with the Christian church," it added.
Graham did not endorse any candidate during the 2016 presidential election, but has since said that Trump can bring hope to conservative Christians.
Some evangelical leaders and churches in Norway separately said that they are withdrawing from a "revival festival" that will be held later this year in Oslo where Graham is scheduled to speak, due to Graham's warnings about the danger of unvetted refugees being granted asylum in the United States.
Stefan Fisher-Høyrem, a historian in the Department of Religion, Philosophy, and History at the University of Agder, Norway, explained in a CP opinion piece that even though several of Norway's leading Christian politicians and evangelical leaders share Graham's core theological convictions, they do not want to be connected to him.
"While they all agree that Christians should pray for political leaders and that God can use the worst leaders for his purpose, they have said Franklin's increasingly unChristian rhetoric and claim that God intervened to ensure Trump won have undermined Franklin's credibility and witness," Fisher-Høyrem wrote at the time.
Still, Graham's humanitarian work has received praise from many Christians in the U.S. A recent American Culture & Faith Institute survey ranked the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, two organizations Graham leads, second and third respectively in a list of the top most effective groups making a difference in culture.
CP reported back in January that Samaritan's Purse has set up a new field hospital just 6 miles outside of the war-torn city of Mosul, where local forces are battling IS for control.
Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, the hospital's director, explained that the facility spans 5 acres and has an emergency room, two operating rooms, and over 50 beds, treating patients suffering from shrapnel wounds, gunshot wounds and burns, along with trauma.
What is more, the Christian hospital was at the time the medical facility closest to the front lines of the battle.
"We are focusing on them to save the most lives possible. Focusing on the patients that are most critically injured and can't survive the ride. So, we have treated dozens of patients. I think it is right under 100 patients at this point and we have only been open a few days," Tenpenny explained.
Devlin told CP that in the midst of all this, the focus should be on "our sisters and brothers in the Middle East who have lost everything."
"I will continue my passion of inviting western pastors and church leaders to come with me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the Eastern Church. If not me, if not us, then who? And if not now, then when?" he asked.