Children's Heart Project

More than 25 Years of Healing Hearts,
Now and for Eternity

We are celebrating more than 25 years of ministry for our Children's Heart Project! Over the past quarter century-plus, Samaritan's Purse has arranged for critical cardiac surgery for more than 1,500 boys and girls from over a dozen countries.

"We look forward to serving more and more children," said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse. "We pray for physical healing and, most importantly, we pray that God will use our efforts to heal hearts for eternity through the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Franklin Graham with children
Franklin Graham with young patients from Mongolia - 2008

"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise."

—Jeremiah 17:14

Born in the Balkans

In 1997, Samaritan's Purse was helping to repair a hospital damaged during the civil war in Bosnia, and doctors there asked if we could help children who desperately needed cardiac surgery. We quickly worked to provide the needed logistical support, and soon we were able to bring a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl to South Carolina for the life-saving operations. Over the next seven years, we would arrange heart surgery for 83 Bosnian children.

Months later, we began bringing children from Kosovo to the U.S. after brutal conflict there cut off access to surgeries that meant the difference between life and death. Samaritan's Purse helped 167 children from this Balkan country to receive heart surgery over a period of 11 years.

We thank God for every life that has been saved, and today, Children's Heart Project continues to help children in need of surgery. Samaritan's Purse provides transportation for the child and a parent or guardian and arranges for an interpreter to accompany them. Surgeries are made possible by partnerships with hospitals and medical personnel in North America and Grand Cayman who volunteer their services.


"This project is a team effort," said Cindy Bonsall, director of Children's Heart Project. "Medical personnel, host families, interpreters, donors, and many others come together to provide life-saving surgery and show Christ's love to these boys and girls."

We partner with churches near the hospitals to host the special guests and arrange for host families who open their homes and hearts to these little ones. These loving families transport them to doctors' appointments, feed and care for them during their recovery at home, and plan fun activities for them to enjoy. As they welcome children and their family members with Christ-like compassion, they share the Gospel in both word and deed.

Over the years, Children's Heart Project has provided life-saving surgery for children from Honduras, Iraq, Nepal, as well as other countries in Asia and Africa. We are currently helping boys and girls from Mongolia, Uganda, and Bolivia.

Children's Heart Project recipient

Transforming Lives for Eternity

Thousands of Children's Heart Project patients, family members, and friends have become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ during the past 25 years.

"As Children's Heart Project celebrates its 25th anniversary, I cannot help but reflect on how the Lord has used children from years past to further His Kingdom," Bonsall said. "I thank God for all the physical and spiritual hearts He has healed through the years."

Bat-Ulzii—who had heart surgery at 13—and his mother decided to follow Christ when they heard the Gospel for the first time while in the U.S. Now a discipleship pastor in Mongolia, he tells people, "I used to think that I only needed heart surgery, but I realized there is a big hole in our souls that needs to be filled. God is the One who fills the hole."

Bat-Ulzii became a discipleship pastor in Mongolia.

Children's Heart Project arranged for Miigaa to have heart surgery when she was 14. A few years later, she professed her faith in Jesus during one of our Heart Camps in Mongolia. These events are weeklong gatherings to promote fellowship and discipleship among former Children’s Heart Project patients. They began in Mongolia in 2011 and also are held in Uganda and Bolivia.

Miigaa has served as a Heart Camp leader and is now a physician planning to start her cardiology residency. Two other past project patients, Munkhuu and Amarzaya, also have gone into the medical profession to help others with heart defects.

In Uganda, two former patients now serve with Samaritan's Purse. Sheena received heart surgery through Children’s Heart Project at age 13. Nearly a decade later at a Heart Camp, she gave her life to Jesus. She later volunteered at the camps and now serves as a project program manager.

Hilda has a similar story. She had surgery through Children's Heart Project at 13 and years later accepted Christ at Heart Camp. She became a camp mentor and works on our Uganda project staff. As these women serve young people, they share the hope of the Gospel that transformed their hearts years ago.

"The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

—Romans 5:5
-North Carolina

The Language of Love

Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is at the core of Children's Heart Project, and we praise God for what He has done. We thank Him for each of our interpreters and host churches and families, who are integral to this ministry. They have the privilege of sharing Christ's love on a daily basis with the children and their family members.

In preparation for welcoming two mothers and their sons who needed heart surgery into her home in North Carolina in 2013, one host researched how to make Mongolian milk tea. The gesture put the mothers at ease and set the stage for them to become friends.

Host parents show the love of Christ in action.
Host Mom with child

"Even though we don’t speak the same language, we really do,” the host said. “Because we’re both mothers—[It's] the love of our children and our families and the hopes that we have for them."

Children's Heart Project interpreters stay with the host family, translating for children and their family members during their stay. As they bridge the language gap, they also share the Gospel.

"During a Children's Heart Project deployment, it seems each moment is special and perfect for sharing the love of Christ," said Karla Patzi Cayoja, who has served as one of our interpreters for children and family members from Bolivia. "There aren't any words to describe the joy in seeing how these children and young people testify that God was the One who healed them. And it's even more incredible when they accept Him as their Savior!"

New church group in Uganda

Planting Churches

Our work does not end after the children have returned home. Children's Heart Project teams in each country work in partnership with local churches to make follow-up visits to families, building on relationships that began during initial health screenings.

We connect those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior with congregations in their communities. In several instances, there are new churches where previously there were none.

For example, a group of new believers began meeting in Victor's yard after he returned to his Ugandan village following heart surgery. Through home visits, two of his family members had given their hearts to the Lord. "What a blessing it is to be saved and be loved by God!" declared his father. The number of new believers in this church has increased to 38, with 70 people meeting weekly for services.

In Mongolia, at least six house churches have formed since 2005 through the work of Children's Heart Project. The most recent one began in 2018 after Zaya and her mother accepted Christ while they were in Grand Cayman for her heart surgery. After returning to Mongolia, they started studying the Bible at home and were joined by another Children's Heart Project family and about 20 relatives and friends.

Please pray for all who have come to faith through Children's Heart Project over the past 25 years, asking God to strengthen them in their faith and use their testimony to advance His Kingdom. Lift up the work of Children's Heart Project in the years ahead, as we seek to reach more children with life-saving surgery and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Victor’s family and village were transformed by the Gospel.
Victor and his family

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."

—Psalm 31:24