1975: Bob Pierce takes Franklin Graham on a trip around Asia to see the power of the Gospel.
Franklin Graham answered the phone and recognized the unmistakable voice of Dr. Bob Pierce, the founder of Samaritan’s Purse: “Hey, buddy—I want you to take a trip with me. We’ll be gone a couple of months, but we’ll be back right before Christmas. I want to take you around the world so you can see what God has allowed me to see all of these years. You’ll see for yourself the poverty of pagan religions and the hopelessness and despair of the people. Then you can see the contrast when the light of the Gospel is introduced. I want you to feel it, buddy. I want you to smell it, taste, and see it.”
It was during this trip that Pierce told Graham that he had leukemia. “The doctors don’t know how long I’ve got to live,” he said. “But I want you to see the things that must break the heart of God.”
They flew from Los Angeles to South Korea, where Dr. Bob had done much of his work in the dark days following World War II. Then they traveled to Hong Kong and looked across the border into China, which was still closed to the Gospel. Then they visited jungle villages on the island of Borneo; Bangkok, Thailand, which was engulfed by refugees fleeing the Communist takeover of Vietnam and Cambodia; as well as India, Nepal, and Iran. Many of those are places where Samaritan’s Purse continues to work today.
Pierce taught Graham a principle he called “God room.” He explained: “God room is when you see a need and it’s bigger than your human abilities to meet it. But you accept the challenge. You trust God to bring in the finances and the materials to meet that need. Many times, I went to places like Vietnam, where I’d see people who needed help. I would commit a hundred thousand dollars to the project. Then I’d go home, knowing that Samaritan’s Purse didn’t have the money. I certainly didn’t have the money. But I believed that through praying and trusting God, He would provide.”