Franklin Graham Sends Letter to Putin and Zelenskyy with a Holy Week Plea


It has been more than a month since Russia invaded Ukraine, and as the war continues, politicians, celebrities and many others with a platform are calling for an end to the conflict.

The Rev. Franklin Graham, the oldest son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham and the head of Samaritan’s Purse, has been one of the most outspoken voices in advocating for peace, even before the war began.

In a new effort to help bring about an end to the conflict, Graham sent letters to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Religious News Service reported Thursday.

He specifically asked Putin and Zelenskyy to call a ceasefire to observe next month’s Christian Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday and concludes with Easter Sunday. Since the Eastern and Western churches’ calendars are different, the two Holy Weeks together would span from April 10 to April 24.

“If they can stop fighting for a week or 10 days, maybe they can stop fighting for two weeks,” Graham told the Religious News Service. “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.”

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His request came after he visited Ukraine to see the humanitarian relief that Samaritan’s Purse is providing for refugees and victims of the war.

While the 69-year-old evangelical leader said he did not expect to get a response from Putin, he felt sending the message was necessary.

Graham met with Putin during a trip to Russia in December 2015, “securing from the Russian president an offer to help with an upcoming conference on the persecution of Christians,” The Washington Post reported.

Before the war began, he urged people to pray for the Russian leader and ask that “God would work in his heart so that war could be avoided at all cost.”

Since the war began, Samaritan’s Purse has been working to provide care for those affected by the war.

At the beginning of this month, the ministry set up a field hospital and sent a team of disaster response specialists to Ukraine, according to its “On the Ground” podcast.

Upon his return to the United States, Graham said Samaritan’s Purse was working on setting up a second emergency field hospital farther east in Ukraine.

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He said he plans on returning to Ukraine during Holy Week to stand in solidarity with Christians there.

Graham said he did not know whether Putin planned to scale back his offensives on Kyiv.

“Regardless of whether he scales back or intensifies, we’re there to help the people,” he told the Religious News Service. “Samaritan’s Purse could possibly be there several years. The need is tremendous.”

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