1990: Samaritan’s Purse partnered with churches across the country to send letters of encouragement and Gospel materials to Operation Desert Shield troops stationed in the Middle East.
In response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the Arabian Peninsula as part of Operation Desert Shield to guard against Iraqi invasion into Saudi Arabia.
During a visit to the region that fall, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham witnessed scores of refugees at the Iraq-Jordan border who had fled their homes, he recounted in his 1995 book, Rebel With A Cause. The refugees needed blankets, food, and water.
Samaritan’s Purse shipped these emergency relief supplies to Jordan, where local churches distributed the items to refugees at border camps, as well as provided fresh fruit and vegetables at the camps twice a week. In addition, the churches showed the JESUS film there in the evenings.
Operation Desert Save
Franklin Graham also launched a Samaritan’s Purse initiative known as Operation Desert Save to encourage U.S. churches to write letters of support to American and Canadian soldiers deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield.
Samaritan’s Purse provided churches with nearly a million Gospel tracts in Arabic to send with the letters so that soldiers could share them with Saudis interested in hearing about Jesus, since the soldiers routinely were presented with materials about Islam.
“Thank you for giving us something we can give back to them to explain our faith in Jesus Christ,” a soldier wrote to Samaritan’s Purse.
As Christmas approached that year, Samaritan’s Purse sent more than 30,000 holiday packages to troops stationed in the Arabian Peninsula. The packages contained letters of encouragement, a Gospel music cassette, and an Arabic New Testament.
“I gave the Bible to a person in my platoon who knew a Saudi Arabian who wanted a Holy Bible,” a U.S. service member wrote in a letter of thanks to Samaritan’s Purse.
An A-10 U.S. fighter jet pilot recounted in a letter that he gave his Arabic New Testament to an Iraqi prisoner of war he met at an army hospital.
On Jan. 17, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as coalition forces launched an offensive to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait that lasted 43 days before liberation.
After the Gulf War, Samaritan’s Purse provided Bibles, food, clothing, and medicine to ministry partners in the region to help Iraqi people in need and also helped several Iraqi churches to repair their buildings that had been damaged or destroyed in the war.
We continue to help families in need living in northern Iraq. These programs open doors to share the Good News of God’s love.