What is a Lighthouse Church?

Simply put, a Lighthouse Church is a light in its community—inspired by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5.

Churches are essential partners when we respond to disasters across Canada. Together, we share Gospel hope with people facing grief and uncertainty.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”

~ Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

God calls the Church to be the light of the world—to serve and care for the world’s most vulnerable. Disasters, whether natural or manmade, hit hurting people the hardest.

The Bible is clear: God wants to use us, His Church, to help restore hope for the hurting. In times of disaster, we have the opportunity to shine the love of Jesus Christ brighter than ever.

Join Samaritan’s Purse as a Lighthouse Church

Send volunteers to serve with Samaritan’s Purse

Volunteers are invaluable! And they have a unique ability to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of disaster victims. When your church recruits a team of volunteers to help out, we coordinate all the logistics, provide the supplies, and have staff in place to lead the way.

Host Samaritan’s Purse at your church

Churches can help serve their communities after a disaster by offering to be a base of operations for Samaritan’s Purse. That can look like hosting our Disaster Relief Unit (a specially equipped tractor trailer outfitted with generators, pumps, hand tools, and safety gear) in your church’s parking lot. It can also mean housing volunteers, storing equipment, and helping us get to know your community.

Let us know you’re interested

Interested in being a Lighthouse Church? We want to get to know you! Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch with more information.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a Lighthouse Sending Church

What are the responsibilities of being a Lighthouse Sending Church?

Lighthouse Sending Churches identify volunteers within their congregation who are willing to serve others in a time of disaster, either in their own community or elsewhere in Canada. When deployed, volunteers assist uninsured or under-insured homeowners with tasks such as possession recovery, mud-outs (after flooding), ash sifting (after fires), debris removal and more. Read this article about a day in the life of a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief volunteer.

Do volunteers need experience or special skills?

No, anyone can volunteer! We provide all the training that you need, then pair you with trained and experienced leaders to facilitate your volunteer experience.

How old do volunteers need to be?

For safety reasons, we recommend that volunteers are over the age of 18. Youth 14-17 require prior permission from us, and must work with a parent or legal guardian.

Will Samaritan’s Purse cover our transportation, accommodation and food costs?

Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the disaster response location, and any incidentals during the stay. We take care of the accommodation, food and safety gear.

Who does Samaritan’s Purse serve during a disaster response?

Our priority is to serve the most vulnerable first, including low-income individuals, the elderly, those without insurance, veterans, and those who serve in public service such as fire, police, and medical response as they often are not able to be home as a result of their duties. Upon completion of all the work at each home, a Bible (signed by every volunteer that worked at the home) is presented to the homeowner.

Does Samaritan’s Purse charge residents for work done in response to a disaster?

No. Because of volunteers and donors like you, Samaritan’s Purse can provide services at no cost to the homeowner, assisting them in their ongoing recovery.

If we want to apply to be a Lighthouse Sending Church, what happens next?

Ensure your church leadership understands and supports our program, then contact us. We will review your request, and if approved, an acceptance letter will be sent out to your church. We will then invite you to participate in future disaster responses as needs arise.

What if the disaster takes place in our own town or city?

We are also interested in recruiting churches to serve as Lighthouse Host Churches. These churches assume additional responsibilities and provide additional support for the local community, as well as hosting equipment and volunteers who may be coming to your area from out of town. Learn more here.

Ideal Qualities of a Lighthouse Host Church

  • Church should be within 50 km of the affected area
  • Church property must be large enough to facilitate the parking of a semi-tractor trailer that operates as our Disaster Relief Unit, a large trailer equipped with tools and equipment.
  • Can offer electrical access from the church to the Disaster Relief Unit. A licensed electrician, where necessary, will perform the task at the expense of Samaritan’s Purse.
  • Can offer high-speed Internet from the church, allowing for a local phone line to be initialized in the Disaster Relief Unit, thereby giving the public a local phone number for the duration of the response.
  • Can offer washrooms, shower and kitchen facilities for volunteers and Samaritan’s Purse staff to use (if not available, we may arrange for additional trailers to come to the site).
  • Can offer temporary accommodation facilities for volunteers and staff, either in the church or through billeting.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a Lighthouse Host Church

Who does Samaritan’s Purse serve during a disaster response?

Our priority is to serve the most vulnerable first, including low-income individuals, the elderly, those without insurance, veterans, and those who serve in public service such as fire, police, and medical response as they often are not able to be home as a result of their duties. We help with tasks such as possession recovery, mud-outs (after flooding), ash sifting (after fires), debris removal and more. Upon completion of all the work at each home, a Bible (signed by every volunteer that worked at the home) is presented to the homeowner.

Where does Samaritan’s Purse recruit its volunteers?

Volunteers are recruited both from within the affected community and Lighthouse Sending Churches from across the country. Lighthouse Host Churches play a critical role in getting the word out to their congregation as well as other churches in the community that volunteers are needed.

Will it cost my church anything to be a Lighthouse Host Church?

Samaritan’s Purse never wants to be a burden to the Lighthouse Host Church and for that reason, we will provide funds to help supplement the additional costs incurred by the church as a hosting facility.

Does Samaritan’s Purse charge residents for work done in response to a disaster?

No. Because of volunteers and donors like you, Samaritan’s Purse can provide services at no cost to the homeowner, assisting them in their ongoing recovery.

How can Samaritan’s Purse help us be prepared if a disaster should happen in our area?

We can share our experience with disaster responses and help your church develop a proactive emergency plan. This will make your church less vulnerable and better positioned to serve your community when the need arises.

What kind of training and oversight is given to volunteers?

Samaritan’s Purse provides all necessary tools, training and safety equipment to carry out our relief efforts. All volunteer work teams are supervised by a trained Samaritan’s Purse Team Leader.

How long does Samaritan’s Purse stay in an area affected by disaster?

The average duration of deployment is usually three to six weeks, with determinations made at the local level whether or not to stay longer depending on the needs of the community.

If we want to apply to be a Lighthouse Sending Church, what happens next?

Ensure your church leadership understands and supports our program, then contact us. We will review your request, and if approved, an acceptance letter will be sent out to your church. We will then invite you to participate in future disaster responses as needs arise.

What if the disaster takes place in a town or city far away from us?

Even if your church never needs to serve as a Lighthouse Host Church, we are also interested in recruiting churches to serve as Lighthouse Sending Churches. These churches identify volunteers within their congregation who are willing to travel across Canada and serve others in a time of disaster.

Stories about our Canadian Disaster Responses

Generous Canadians like you partner with Samaritan’s Purse to help Calgary residents... Read More

Volunteer teams helped nearly 130 residents clean their homes after devastating floods in... Read More

Almost 100 First Nations reserves have received kits, Bibles from Samaritan’s Purse and... Read More

“After partnering with Samaritan’s Purse during the flood clean-up in our community, we were seen as servants to the people in our community. It also empowered the people in our church with the confidence to know that with God’s help, we can make a difference in our community.”

~ Reverend Neville

Other ways you can get involved