Franklin Graham has traveled again to Haiti to underline the spiritual message he has brought to others after disasters, that God understands your pain. One wonder might wonder, however, if Graham understands it, given what he has said after disastrous events.
According to the Christian Post, Graham spoke at a soccer stadium in Haiti on Sunday and said this, “We pray for you. We pray that God will cover you with His mercy. We know how difficult it is for you as you remember.”
Before Christmas Graham had been to Haiti with Sarah Palin, bringing shoe boxes of Christmas gifts.
While conservative talk show hosts say of folks who talk about negative speech in the wake of the Arizona shooting that they are simply looking for political opportunity, what of politicians and preachers who arrive saving souls when it’s water and food that they need?
Graham went on to say this, “Cholera has come into your country and infected your people. Many have died and many are sick. But sin has affected not only you but the entire human race. The entire human race has been infected and is under the death sentence,” explained Graham.
“But if you are willing to receive Christ today by faith, God will forgive you and cleanse you of your sins,” he continued. “Will you trust Him today?”
The parallels are scarcely missed in this message, as people went forward after Graham’s message, as people all over the world followed his Franklin Graham’s father, Billy.
But inside the message, equating cholera with sin might suggest to folks cholera visited the people because they were filled with sin. It is a common message that arrives again and again in the wake of human tragedies. It is what Graham said after Hurricane Katrina as well.
This is what USA Today wrote following Franklin Graham’s pronouncements after Hurricane Katrina, beginning with the quote from the preacher himself in a speech Graham gave in Virginia: “This is one wicked city, OK? It’s known for Mardi Gras, for Satan worship. It’s known for sex perversion. It’s known for every type of drugs and alcohol and the orgies and all of these things that go on down there in New Orleans. Reverend Graham continued, “There’s been a black spiritual cloud over New Orleans for years. They believe God is going to use that storm to bring revival. “
The imagery of sin in the wake of the storm wasn’t lost on the people who heard. Right or wrong, the gift of salvation has value for many, but it’s hard for the message to stick when it’s food and water they need.
While Graham and his crew helped after the storm, going into New Orleans to help rebuild churches and give food and shelter to many, the initial remarks set off a firestorm, because the words of salvation came first.
This reporter heard fundamental Christians say just weeks after Hurricane Katrina, as the survivors struggled in the town of Natchitoches before they moved on to other places or back to New Orleans, “They should just get over it and move on with their lives. They should just trust in God as their hope.” It was trust and love the victims needed for sure; it was shelter and food, however, these folks needed the most.”
Buses arrived at the shelter in Natchitoches during the early days after the storm, taking people to local churches, predominantly white, with white men guarding the doors to prevent any suggestion of violence, as they watched television screens of New Orleans. People got food, in regular forays, and Bibles and prayer all the time. In fact, they got it before and after the food.
When a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina had passed and people went on with their lives, there was virtually no one who sat in those churches taken from the shelter who continued to worship in them. For the message of prayer and food put together, with sin didn’t stick. The food was enough of a prayer.
In the Madman by Khalil Gibran, a Christian himself, wrote this parable that Christians might ponder in the wake of disastrous events:
“Once there lived a man who had a valley-full of needles. And one
day the mother of Jesus came to him and said: ‘Friend, my son’s
garment is torn and I must needs mend it before he goeth to the
temple. Wouldst thou not give me a needle?’
And he gave her not a needle, but he gave her a learned discourse
on Giving and Taking to carry to her son before he should go to the temple”
Katherine T. Phan
Franklin Graham Tells Haitians: God Understands Your Grief
The Christian Post
Cathryn Lynn Grossman
Billy Graham’s Son Takes the Pulpit, His Own Way
On Giving and Taking
The Poem Hunter.org