On 18 March, 2022, Pastor Dan Serb, Irish Mission President, Michael Douglas (our photographer and videographer) and I boarded a plane to Romania. Our purpose was to observe the impact of organised humanitarian interventions, give moral support to people during this crisis, collect stories and experiences of people and members as they go through this heinous humanitarian crisis, and practically support the hurting. One of our objectives was to understand how Adventist Community Services at the Union level could best support future refugees to the UK.
On Sabbath, 19 March, I had the privilege of preaching about a hope and a better future in Speranta (Hope) church, Bucharest, with Dan as my interpreter and witnessed the baptism of three people.
We visited the Romanian border accompanied by the Romanian ADRA Director, Pastor Robert Georgescu, to assess the needs of the Ukrainian refugees. Pastor Dan translated the stories of heroic deeds from pastors who work tirelessly, physically carrying people from Ukraine to the airport. We heard stories about business owners who use their factories to support the refugees as they make their way to safety.
Pastor Vasyl Vartsaba relayed stories of how the Bukovina Conference in Ukraine opened its campsite to receive refugees. They had 150 people at the campsite, including students and families. The Union then asked them to take another 150 children aged between 3 and 18, some of whom are disabled. One of the many stories relayed to us touched our hearts and helped us understand this moment's severity.
A group of children were ambushed and killed on their way to the campsite. The headteacher felt compelled to take the rest of the children to safety at the Conference campsite. So, she drove the bus with 20 children to the site.
The children are so traumatised they are competing for the attention of their teachers, their faces reflect the despair they are going through, and now and then, it dawns on them that they are safe at the Adventist campsite.
The challenge to the campsite is that they desperately need to develop the infrastructure to cope with the numbers.
While reflecting on the devastating effects of this moment on the lives of the Ukrainians and the Romanians, I remembered the incredible humanitarian work in the BUC territory.
With its small team, ADRA-UK works tirelessly to raise funds for humanitarian crises and secure funding for development projects worldwide, including raising over £100K for the Ukraine crisis. As Chair of the Board, I am proud of the work, of the initiatives they execute, to assist the world's most vulnerable people.
I also salute the work of Adventist Community Services (ACS) around the Union with thousands of volunteers. A small church contributed £2000 to the Crisis appeal. The small charity, E5 Baby Bank, hosted by the Clapton Adventist church, also contributed to supporting those fleeing their homes in Ukraine.
Outside of crises, many of our congregations run weekly outreach feeding programmes for people living in the UK who are in need. I salute the tremendous work of the local ACS teams, who commit so much of their time to helping others. I look forward to visiting some of them soon.
I want to thank you for your overwhelming support of the Ukrainian Crisis and your constant practical work across the BUC. I applaud the work you do to go in the name of the Father to help suffering humanity.
Below are some of the video clips of the trip: