From the Pulpit – Active compassion

Pastor Karel Samek, Ashcroft 7th Day Adventist

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…” (Matthew 25).

According to this parable told by Jesus, our eternal destiny will be decided by how we relate to the people around us. Those oblivious to suffering humanity are left out to their great surprise. Absence of empathy and active compassion reveal a self-centered and self-absorbed mindset.

Approximately 925 million people on planet earth will go to bed hungry tonight. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds!

Poverty’s definition is, “the lack of basic human needs, such as clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter, because of the inability to afford them.” It is a rising concern worldwide, North America included.

Many talk about poverty. Others do something about it. There are many worthy secular and religious organizations involved doing what they can. Yet they are never too many. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the worldwide agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for humanitarian outreach, relief and development, is one of them. It works closely with other organizations and governments. Because it involves mostly volunteers and local people expenses on administration are minimum. I just learnt that Czech ADRA as a non-profit organization is allowed only 5 per cent for overhead expenses. This is also a reason why many governments double or triple contributions collected from caring donors.

The story of ADRA begins after the World War II. The Church established the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS). In the early 1980’s the name ADRA was adopted reflecting its worldwide involvement. Major refocus from just handing out “fish to the hungry”, to teaching people how to “fish so that they could feed themselves for a life time” was adopted. This led to a philosophy change focused on helping people beyond the immediate needs of the day. One example is the present starvation crisis caused by drought in “the horn of Africa”. Before this crisis reached alarming proportions ADRA was drilling wells in approximately 150 villages providing water for survival.

The ADRA mission is to “work with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change through empowering partnerships and responsible action.” In 1985, a year after the reorganization of ADRA International, ADRA Canada was formed and it is currently part of the network improving lives in 120 countries and it stays long after the news’ attention shifts elsewhere.

Look for ADRA projects on YouTube and go to the ADRA Canada website at

Increasing numbers of Canadians are looking for organizations that have a proven record of efficiency and low overhead costs. In Czech Republic overwhelming majority of donations come from secular community and Czech government entrusts the local ADRA chapter with regular financial support. Similarly, Canadian government is doubling its contributions for the present crisis in the horn of Africa. Jewish proverb says it: “By saving one, you save the world”. Each of us can do something and like a small pebble thrown into water start waves that touch distant shores and reach into eternity.