Ever since Samaritan’s Purse opened a field hospital in NYC due to COVID-19, controversy has been stirring.
Atheist groups have repeatedly attacked and protested the hospital’s work, citing Samaritan’s Purse as “a hate group” and calling for the hospital to be shut down.
But for one New Yorker – who isn’t even a Christian, but has volunteered at the field hospital – those attacks couldn’t be further from the truth!
Whitney Tilson self-identifies as “not religious.”
He had never heard of Franklin Graham – the conservative Christian leader of Samaritan’s Purse – when the field hospital opened in Central Park.
Tilson, an American investor, and his wife, Susan, first encountered the Samaritan’s Purse staff when they were out walking their dogs on a Sunday morning. Tilson stopped to watch as workers scurried across the park, erecting tents for a 68-bed field hospital.
He was surprised at the efforts, but quickly realized that the field hospital and its staff would provide crucial support to the strained healthcare system in New York City.
So he jumped at the chance to volunteer with the organization—even though he didn’t profess the same faith as Samaritan’s Purse staff.
In the last several weeks, Tilson has stepped up to help care for the facility, and has donated thousands of dollars’ worth of food and support to the staff. He’s become a familiar face at the site and a welcome encouragement to the stressed medical personnel.
He’s also become one of the hospital’s most dedicated defenders and champions.
From the moment Samaritan’s Purse arrived in New York City, liberal groups have protested their presence. They claim the hospital will deny treatment to those who identify as LGBTQ or non-Christians.
These groups have based their arguments on the fact that all Samaritan’s Purse staff must sign a statement of faith declaring that “we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female,” along with other faith-based statements.
So activists have picketed the hospital with signs reading, “help, not hate,” and have been outspoken against the potential harm that the hospital could do.
But Tilson has asserted that the field hospital has only done good for the city of New York.
“It’s an incredibly impressive organization,” Tilson stated. “I have no doubt they are delivering world-class critical care to my fellow New Yorkers stricken with COVID-19.”
Although many of Tilson’s fellow New Yorkers have rebuffed the humanitarian organization’s work, Tilson has seen firsthand the love and service that Samaritan’s Purse staff provides.
“Every single person I’ve met has been a genuinely nice person and very competent and good at their job,” Tilson shared.
Tilson staunchly defends the work of the field hospital, and has even lost friends who say he’s supporting “oppressive” viewpoints in his volunteer work.
One of Tilson’s friends wrote, “The values harbored by [Samaritan’s Purse] and [Franklin Graham] just completely fly in the face of what [we] stand for.”
Tilson acknowledges that he, his wife, and many of their friends hold views that are “polar opposite” to those of Franklin Graham, but he considers the hospital’s work more important than current culture wars.
“I’m supporting a hospital that is saving people’s lives,” Tilson said. “I’m not endorsing the ideology of the founder of the organization.”
Tilson has even had the opportunity to speak with Graham, who phoned him personally to express gratitude for his volunteer efforts and donations.
“He’s a great human being,” Graham said after his conversation with Tilson.
“He might disagree with me, and I might disagree with him, but that’s not going to stop us from working together to help people.”
After talking to Graham, Tilson expressed his confidence that the organization was doing important work.
Throughout his weeks as a volunteer, he’s seen that Samaritan’s Purse is guided not by hatred and bigotry but by the selfless love of Christ.
“Their primary mission in life is not to go out and have hatred toward gays,” Tilson reported. “They believe what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin—yes. But it is not what drives them.”
“What drives them is, ‘How can I do God’s work by healing people and saving lives?’”
Praise God for the witness of Samaritan’s Purse in New York City!
Let’s keep praying that others will see the love of God at the field hospital, just as Tilson has.