ADRA and the European Divisions Highlight Plight of Refugees

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s World Refugee Sabbath is June 16, and for the third year running, Europe will be taking a lead in highlighting the plight and needs of refugees both in Europe and around the world. Using the ADRA Serbia Community Centre in Belgrade as a base, two live programs will hear first-hand accounts from refugees, reports on ADRA and local church activities, and see how, as a church, we can bring hope. Jonathan Duffy, the president of ADRA International, will be among the invited guests and will speak about his recent visit with the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar.

Two years ago, refugees were pouring through Belgrade railway station in the tens of thousands. Pictures of the crowded park near the station filled TV screens around the world. Now the TV cameras have gone, and the news agenda has moved elsewhere, but refugees are still trickling through, with roughly 5,000 in the country at the moment.

While fifteen charities were offering assistance at that time, today ADRA Serbia is one of the few still in action. During the live broadcast on Saturday, June 16 at 11:00 CET (Central European Time) representatives from the European Divisions will visit the ADRA Community Centre, hear the refugee children’s choir, talk to refugees, and hear how staff are making a significant difference in their lives. Igor Mitrović, ADRA Serbia director, will also share what motivates him in reaching out to this specific group of people.

Hosted by Corrado Cozzi and Victor Hulbert, Communication directors for the Inter-European and Trans-European Divisions, at 15:00 CET a second live program will take viewers across Europe and around the world. The two directors became involved in highlighting the refugee crisis in Europe in 2016 and since then have reported from Greece, Italy, and France. “We could not stand by and just watch,” Cozzi states. “It surely must be our Christian duty to get involved.”

To watch the live stream click here.

Cozzi goes on to say “When I think ‘refugees’ I think ‘all human beings.’ Since the first humans, Adam and Eve, were forced out of Eden, all of us are ‘refugees’ waiting to go back home, the home country God created for us. For me, that’s why the Bible invites us to respect the refugees that it calls ‘strangers’ (Isaiah 56:3), including them also in the commandments.”

In 2016, the pair shared a significant series of reports from Greece that helped focus church members’ minds on the work of ADRA and Adventist Help. Raising awareness not only assisted with fundraising and recruiting volunteers but encouraged other charities to partner together in projects that would make a bigger difference.

Last year they visited a Sanctuary Church in Castel Volturno, Southern Italy. While their 2016 report focused on Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees, the community here had crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Libya after having made treacherous journeys across the Sahara. Their stories were equally moving.

See: World Refugee Sabbath Highlights a Sanctuary Church in Southern Italy.

“I went there with less sympathy than I had for the Syrian refugees,” Hulbert confesses. “However, when I heard their stories, realized the challenges of violence, poverty or persecution that they faced back at home, my heart opened to them.” Hulbert was equally impressed by their positive, vibrant Christianity as they worshipped together, many of them having become Christians on the journey, or when they arrived in Italy. “It is astonishing,” Hulbert reflects. “Today’s businessman can so easily become tomorrow’s refugee… but even in these difficult circumstances, these folk are so positive, and have such hope.”

It is that hope that will prevail in the programs this weekend in a positive worship experience co-sponsored by ADRA, Adventist Review, and the two European Divisions.

Take time to tune in as part of your worship service. Visit https://adra.eu/refugees/ to gain ideas and suggestions for how you and your church can participate on a local level. Resources include a suggested sermon, worship ideas, social media stickers, and, on June 16, the interface for the live stream broadcasts.

This article was written by the Trans-European and Inter-European Divisions and originally appeared on the TED News Network. Image courtesy of TED.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8819
1 Like

hy·poc·ri·sythe practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense”
You get the idea. God is very clear about two things: Take in those who we now would call immigrants or refugees, and stop pretending. Where is the Adventist Church response to the victims of our immingration debacle and the mistreatment of children seeking refuge. The Bible is very clear and we are being held to accountability, each one individually regardless of our standing with the INS. As a church our response in many places has been to support the current US leadership and perhaps give a dollar for world refugee offering. Tragic.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

3 Likes

I see refugees first hand, when I take the train, a fifty minute journey, into Italy, from my home in France.
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I go armed with big plastic carry bags to bring back the delectable fresh produce from their farmers market, for prices one third less than I pay in France.

But to traverse the three blocks from the Italian train station, to the huge warehouse with its hundreds of market stalls, I have to pass the pitiful scene of dozens of black Africans, sitting, hopeless, helpless and hungry around the train station.

These are the boat people who have survived the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa, in a flimsy, fragile flotilla of desperation, despair and hope for a better existence.

I close my mind to the reality of the many who have not made it, since death by drowning is a horrible experience.

These refugees speak no Italian, so who will hire them, with a zero lack of communication, for any job which needs to be done?

I console myself by making a guilty donation to DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, the most humanitarian group on planet earth, dealing with world wide misery, of which we have a plentiful plethora…

I many times have to switch TV channels because I cannot tolerate the grimness, ghastliness, grotesqueness of the evening news offerings.

However, the “good angels “ are surely watching this LIVE STREAMING of earth’s anguish/agony/atrocity. They are after all, the JURORS in the “.grest controversy “ to hopefully ULTIMATELY pontificate between good and evil

HOW DO THEY TOLERATE IT ???

ARE THEY ALSO ABLE TO “SWITCH CHANNELS “ as I do ???

Quite frankly I HOLD THE ANGELS ACCOUNTABLE,
for not clamoring to God,
to FAST FORWARD the Second Coming,
so these atrocities will be abbreviated.

Do your job Angels, and stop farting around!

Sorry to be vulgar, but it is YOU, the Angels who are delaying and not expediting an end to earth’s miseries !!

Give your final verdict on the “great controversy “ so that we can all go home to heaven !

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Sam-
How many refugees have you personally taken in? I recoil at a statement generally implying the SDA church is failing in its duty. Its duty is the everlasting Gospel not serving as a major welfare organization.
SDA members do have a duty as committed Christians to succor those in need. Members can do it thru support of organizations such as ADRA. Maybe there are even other reputable organizations assisting refugees. One would hope that refugees are carefully and courteously vetted as to their status.

Suffering Fish?
The “whataboutism” and political myopia that your response demonstrates in trying to shift the focus to “how many refugees that I have personally taken in” misses the point.

FYI, I have had the distinct honor of paying my own way to several disasters (as a Chaplain Volunteer with the Red Cross) where displaced persons and refugees were helped. I never asked for any organization to reimburse me in any way.

I called and made inquiries looking for a SDA church response or statement in light of the SDA offering appeal this week for refugees scheduled for tomorrow BEFORE I wrote my comment in Spectrum. I received “no comment” to verbal reprimands for even expecting the SDA church to “enter the political debate on anything”. One colleague that I have known for a long time and is a church administrator told me “Give to ADRA, and leave any thoughts that church leadership would do or say anything on this issue of refugees and immigration.”

So, once again we are so heavenly minded that we have fallen short here on earth. Read those verses again…

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Sam, very well said. In view of the example provided by the disciples in the formation of the Christian church and the Adventist churches outreach programs we have evidence that we are in accordance with the calling to spread the “everlasting Gospel”. It is in fact through these very agencies and means that the word of God is spread to those who otherwise may never know.
The level of thinking that goes into “Its duty is the everlasting Gospel not serving as a major welfare organization” and then go on to say that there is a “duty…to succor those in need” is contradictory. This appears to imply that our outreach is “welfare” handouts and in tone that those benefiting from it do not deserve and such activities take away from the primary mission, I am at a loss as to exactly what this means.

It is my belief that God is using these circumstances to bring people to our shores so they might have an opportunity to serve him. These souls, whom God has chosen, we have no business being resentful or angry with.

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David, thank you for understanding and taking the time to share. There are some issues of basic fairness and human decency (immigration and it’s impact on children) that call out for us to be heard.

2 Likes