Justice. Compassion. Love.
These three words are at the heart of ADRA’s mission, and their importance is never more evident than our work right now with those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
Work for Justice
Justice takes work.
Sometimes it’s easier to connect with the concept of justice by approaching it through its opposite: injustice. And the injustices surrounding the men, women, and children being displaced by this crisis are many.
Think about the following:
● The communities being hit by bombs had no voice in the decision that led to this violence.
● Many will not be able to flee the violence in their country or will only be able to leave with assistance from others, because they can’t afford the costs associated with travel.
● Elderly people, people with disabilities, and others with mobility limitations face multiple obstacles. If they flee, travel can be difficult, access to equitable resources is sometimes limited, and quick action for safety may not be possible. But, staying behind leaves them open to risks from the conflict.
● People from other countries, most notably those of color, are being held back from transport and access to resources.
● Displaced women and children are regularly vulnerable to threats like sexual violence and trafficking, and that risk is higher because most of their husbands and fathers will have to stay behind in Ukraine.
Recognizing injustice in this crisis allows us to respond more effectively and work towards giving each person equal opportunity.
Right now, that means making sure the most vulnerable have access to transport and a safe place to stay. It means cash assistance so people can care for themselves and their families in the way that’s most appropriate for them. It means serving all people based on their needs regardless of race, religion, nationality, or any other defining factor.
The work of justice isn’t always easy, but as Micah 6:8 reminds us, it’s something we’ve all been called to do.
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (ESV)
Act with Compassion
In Ukraine and at the borders of its neighboring countries, you will find a lot of pain, uncertainty, and fear. You will also find a lot of compassion.
You might be tempted to dismiss compassion as a passive emotion. Or worse, you might confuse compassion for something like pity that holds people at a distance! But trust us, compassion is a call to action. It’s a driving force and an emotion that draws us to truly care for people in pain wherever they are.
What we’re witnessing when it comes to those affected by the crisis in Ukraine is some of the most active compassion we’ve ever witnessed. Without hesitation, our Adventist community stepped up and mobilized, volunteering anything they could provide, from time to resources to space, to help people displaced by the conflict.
If you visit an Adventist church or a church member’s home near the Ukrainian border in Poland, Romania, or other nearby countries, you may find it full of refugees. Thousands of those who have been forced to flee are finding safety within the doors of our churches. They are finding welcome in the homes of our church members. They are finding compassion in action when they need it most.
We have also been overwhelmed by that same compassion from supporters like you. Our phones have been ringing with people wanting to know more, to offer their prayers, to make donations when they can.
Churches, schools, and businesses are holding fundraisers. Students are organizing vigils. Mothers are praying with their children at night for the mothers from Ukraine who are comforting their children in makeshift bunkers, bomb shelters, and strangers’ homes.
Compassion is alive in every corner of the world and it is active in this crisis.
Respond with Love
It all comes down to love, doesn’t it? God calls us to love our neighbor and right now our neighbor is being forced to flee conflict and crisis.
Imagine for just a moment what a refugee from Ukraine has experienced.
Hearing bombs fall, seeing communities destroyed, losing people you love, knowing you must leave everything behind to keep your family safe.
If you’re blessed to have a car, the road is still long to leave the country. Our staff in Poland are reporting that the wait to cross the border has been as long as 60 hours. If you’re walking, you’re facing long days in below freezing temperatures, carrying only what you can hold.
And that’s just what has brought you to the border, but what’s next? Do you have somewhere to stay? Where will you go next? Do you have enough fuel to get there? Can you call your loved ones to let them know you’re safe? Do you have enough diapers for your baby? Blankets to keep you warm? Toothbrushes, soap, and feminine hygiene items?
Diapers, fuel, and phone chargers may not sound like love on the surface. But these supplies honor someone’s dignity in their darkest hour. That is love.
Think of what you would do if this was truly your neighbor who lost everything. Is there anything you wouldn’t do to help them?
We know the answer to that because we have felt the power of your love in the outpouring of support and prayers we’ve received! Thanks to you, ADRA is making sure our neighbors from Ukraine have a place to rest their heads, the information and fuel to get where they’re going next, and the things that make them feel recognized, make them feel like they are not alone, and make them feel loved.