Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Connecting the Christian Community

Franklin Graham Asks for a Russia-Ukraine Ceasefire

Rev. Franklin Graham revealed that he wrote to Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ask for a ceasefire in observance of Holy Week.

The evangelist suggests a ceasefire from April 10-24. He said Putin might not respond to his call, but sending a message to both leaders was necessary, reports Religion News Service.

“If they can stop fighting for a week or 10 days, maybe they can stop fighting for two weeks,” said Graham. “If they stop for two weeks maybe they can stop for a month. If they stop for a month, maybe they can stop for good. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

If they stop for a month, maybe they can stop for good. You’ve got to start somewhere. —Rev. Franklin Graham

Western Christian churches follow the Gregorian calendar in observing Holy Week starting from Palm Sunday on April 10 and ending on Easter Sunday on the 17th. Meanwhile, Eastern Orthodox churches, where the majority of Russian and Ukrainian Christians adhere, follow the Julian calendar and the Holy Week begins on April 17.

Graham recently visited Ukraine to see the work of Samaritan’s Purse, his humanitarian aid organization. Samaritan’s Purse set up an emergency field hospital in the western city of Lviv, about 340 miles west of the capital city Kyiv, to help refugees and war victims. Around 170 staff members, including doctors, nurses, lab techs, and logisticians work together to attend to patients who come every day.

“We have orthopedic doctors, general surgeons, and all the supplies so we want to be closer to where the injured are,” said Graham.

Plans to open a second emergency field hospital are underway at an undisclosed location. The organization will announce its location once it is ready to accept patients.

In addition to offering medical assistance, Samaritan’s Purse provides food, hygiene kits, and blankets to people in need. Graham describes the Russia-Ukraine conflict as “one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time,” and calls for prayers for those who are suffering at this dark time.

Graham plans to go back to Ukraine during the Holy Week to show support and solidarity to fellow Christians.

The evangelist has ties with Putin, following his first meeting with the Russian leader in 2015. Graham and Putin have shared a certain view of religious liberty and have similar opinions on homosexuality and abortion, according to Baptist News.

Four days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, the conservative pastor was criticized on social media after he called on his followers to “Pray for President Putin.”

Graham tweeted: “Pray for President Putin today. This may sound like a strange request, but we need to pray that God would work in his heart so that war could be avoided at all cost. May God give wisdom to the leaders involved in these talks & negotiations, as well as those advising them.”

The tweet immediately went viral and outraged many. Critics claimed Graham has an unhealthy relationship with Putin and the tweet was very “un-Christian.”

Journalist Jeff Sharlet defended Graham, saying the pastor’s appeal was misunderstood. In a tweet, the author wrote: “I’m (the) last one to defend Franklin Graham—I report on Christian nationalism—but taking his ‘pray for Putin’ post out of context replicates fascist misinformation. Graham asks followers to pray that God turn Putin from war. There’s enough nasty on the Right; no need to manufacture.”

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