Compassion without limits
In the first 12 days of the conflict in Eastern Europe, over 1.2 million refugees crossed the Polish border. The people of Poland, without any hesitation, have opened not only their hearts but also their homes and churches to the refugees crossing into their country.
The Seventh-day Adventist community of about 6,000 has prepared more than 1,200 shelters on church properties and in private homes. Volunteers from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Poland visited several border and reception crossings, where they distributed “start packages”—a set of basic personal hygiene items—for people crossing the border and organized accommodations while learning about people’s most urgent needs.
The Christian charity service Blisko Serca (Close to the heart) has allocated two of its centers to receive refugees from Ukraine. The Orion center in Wisła and the Polubie center in Zatonie have hosted more than 70 people.
The Polish Senior College of Theology and Humanities in Podkowa Leśna has welcomed the Ukrainian people, and additional buildings and premises will be made available. A kindergarten for refugee children, operated by volunteers from the local church, will also open on the campus in the coming days.
Younger church members are also engaged in the relief effort. The Adventist Scouting Association (ZHA) and the Pathfinders organized charity collections all over Poland. The response was huge. Sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blankets, pillows, duvets, hygiene products, nonperishable food, flashlights, batteries, diapers, medicines, medical aids, and heating stoves are already on their way. The donations were sent to the western part of Ukraine, in keeping with the migration of people coming from the eastern part of the country.
Ryszard Jankowski, president of the Polish Union Conference of the Adventist Church, and Tomasz Żelazko, another minister, visited a border crossing.
“It is impossible to describe the scale of activities that are carried out not only by the Adventist Church through its institutions but also, above all, by individual members of the community and local churches,” church leaders said. “Many local churches have paused organizing Sabbath services while their premises currently serve as accommodation. A lot of people are not only sacrificing their finances but also, most of all, opening their own homes and welcoming those in need.” [Daniel Kluska, Polish Union Conference, and Adventist Review]
Neighboring Bulgaria offers humanitarian aid
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe is part of the worldwide Adventist response to help those in need through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
Bulgaria, a small country bordering the Black Sea, which connects with Ukraine, is participating in relief efforts in solidarity with the Ukrainian refugees.
During the second week of the conflict, workers at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bulgaria gave money, and Petya Gotseva, a humanitarian aid coordinator, purchased heavy blankets along with food and drinks for refugees staying in tents at the border.
Interestingly, on a Saturday morning, one of the Bulgarian national television channels broadcasting directly from the Romanian-Ukrainian border featured a famous Bulgarian movie star riding in the Adventist Union van, sharing how pleased she was with ADRA’s activities.
Bulgarian citizens have exemplified extraordinary compassion toward people in need. [Andreas Mazza, Inter-European Division, and Adventist Review]
Churches and ADRA respond to “unprecedented” floods in Australia
After heavy rainfall caused unprecedented flooding in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland, Australia, with estimated damages of over A$2 billion, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) volunteers and local Seventh-day Adventist church members are joining the efforts of other churches and charities to assist the flood-ravaged communities.
With most floodwaters beginning to recede on Thursday, March 3, 2022, many church members dedicated the weekend to meeting the urgent needs in the community.
One church is running an evacuation center and provides meals, clothing, and bedding items to the community. Other churches have organized community clean-up operations.
On Saturday morning, instead of meeting for church, another church packed and distributed 50 food hampers.
The team received a special thanks from one of the grateful recipients. “Thank you so much! I have nothing to eat and no money to buy any food. I’m going to church next week!”
In Lismore, NSW, the church—transformed into an emergency evacuation center—received a full load of nonperishable food items. A team of volunteers helped unload the truck. Other food-shortage responses are being organized. Sanitarium Health Food Company has offered to donate food supplies for 12,000 families, which will be distributed across the affected region of northern NSW.
In Murwillumbah, NSW, on Sabbath, the Seventh-day Adventist church held a shorter Sabbath service where members shared testimonies. At 10:30 A.M., they went to assist the community by delivering food and helping with the clean-up. [Juliana Muniz, Adventist Record]