Amid heartbreaking developments, leaders vote release of funds for urgent relief initiatives.
Leaders of several Seventh-day Adventist organizations are joining forces to provide urgent assistance to India and Brazil. In a May 4, 2021 action, the Administrative Committee of the General Conference (GC-ADCOM) voted to release contingency funds and ramp up the coordination of efforts by various church organizations to assist those two pandemic-ravaged nations.
Adventist leaders explained that several church organizations have already been assisting many countries affected by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. ADRA in India has launched several projects in partnership with the Seventh-day Adventist Church health system in India. “Initial estimates in financial support, program strengthening, and in-kind, totals about US$250,000,” they reported. Since the pandemic began, the ADRA COVID-19 response in India has totaled more than $1,210,000, with another $1,000,000 expected in the coming weeks.
Assistance to India thus far has included one oxygen generation plant (OGP) for Surat Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and 3,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to Adventist hospitals in Bangalore, Pune, and Nuzvid. ADRA India also partnered to provide 20 oxygen concentrators to those three hospitals and specific support to four vaccination centers for three months in Delhi.
GC-ADCOM’s action provides that the General Conference (GC), in partnership with the Adventist Health Ministries department and Adventist Health International (AHI), based at Loma Linda University Health (LLUH), will assign a combined US$200,000 from the GC World Contingency Fund and other sources to be distributed proportionately among 11 Adventist hospitals across India. Besides the health-care institutions assisted by ADRA India, these funds will support the battle against the pandemic in Adventist hospitals in Ranchi, Ottapalam, Aizawl, and Tanjore (Thanjavur), among others.
LLUH president Richard Hart, who is also president of the AHI management team, explained that as the pandemic intensified a year ago, AHI leaders realized the devastating impact it could have on the more than 40 hospitals the organization works to support. “We then set about creating a US$500,000 COVID-19 fund to support payrolls, purchase supplies, and provide medical expertise to these hospitals and the Adventist Church worldwide,” Hart explained.
As the focus has now shifted to India, Hart said AHI is once again working in partnership with Adventist health-care institutions. “We are partnering with the 11 Adventist hospitals in that great country to support our health professionals who are working under very difficult circumstances,” he said.
The May 4 action also includes applying US$75,000 from the GC World Contingency Fund for three large Adventist hospitals in Brazil. These health-care institutions, located in Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, and Belem, have been significantly affected by the last wave of the pandemic, church leaders said.
Peter Landless, director of Adventist Health Ministries for the Adventist Church, and a vice president of AHI, told Adventist Review that he believes “the COVID-19 ravaging India reflects the undiluted suffering and humanitarian crisis of this broken planet and is heartbreaking.” In moments like these, the Adventist Church is committed to extending the healing ministry of Jesus, Landless added.
He also underscored that the goal of the action taken by Adventist leaders is to “express solidarity with our hospitals, health workers, and members, all stretched beyond capacity and supplies” during the current pandemic. “We fully understand in the face of the enormity of the situation that this support is the proverbial drop in the bucket, but every dollar counts,” Landless said.
In light of the latest developments, Landless emphasized he feels “extremely grateful and thrilled” by the Adventist Church’s lockstep response that can “effectively react, respond, and live mission as a team” in emergencies like these. “As I love to say, and believe with all my heart, ‘This is church at its best!’ ” he said.
Leaders noted that COVID-19 cash relief distributed to Adventist health-care facilities and world division health endeavors has exceeded US$1 million over the past nine months, not including the amounts voted this week. These initiatives have been funded by the GC, AHI, GC Health Ministries Medical Mission funds, and a special donation by the Chinese Union Mission (cash and masks).
According to church leaders, recipients have applied the funds and reported back to supporting and donating entities. “It is expected that the same procedure of application and reporting of funds will take place [in this case],” Landless explained. Landless and Hart will be advising on fund application on designated projects and initiatives as needed.
Since April 22, India has reported more than 300,000 cases every day, according to CNN updates based on figures released by the Indian health ministry. On May 6, it recorded 412,262 new COVID-19 cases, a new single-day record. As of May 6, authorities have identified more than 21 million cases, 8.3 million of them in the past 30 days. India also reported almost 4,000 deaths on May 6, the ninth consecutive day that the number of fatalities exceeded 3,000.
In a statement released May 6, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson asked Adventist leaders and members around the world to pray for the Lord to work through Adventist hospitals and health-care professionals to bring relief from this devastating pandemic:
“The decision to help the Southern Asia Division with relief funds to assist the Seventh-day Adventist hospitals in India with the crushing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic came as a result of an urgent appeal from the president of the Southern Asia Division, Pastor Ezras Lakra.
“The health situation is so critical in India with such human devastation that it was the right thing to assist even in a modest way considering the overwhelming public health crisis facing the population and our Adventist hospitals as they minister to people as Christ did. I asked Dr. Peter Landless to coordinate relief efforts, and he has engaged a collaborative approach with the General Conference, ADRA International, and Adventist Health International connected with the General Conference and Loma Linda University Health.
“We are also modestly assisting the South American Division with a financial donation to help care for the saving of life efforts for individuals in that large division territory. Please pray for the Lord to work through our Adventist hospitals and health-care professionals to bring relief from this devastating pandemic not only in these mentioned areas but around the world.
“May this be a wake-up call to all of us that Jesus is coming soon and we need to be sharing the righteousness of Christ beautifully placed in His three angels’ messages and the hope of Christ’s soon return. In the meantime, let us do all we can to follow in the footsteps of Christ as we minister to those in great need.”
To donate to ADRA emergency relief for India and Brazil, go to: ADRA.ORG/COVID19Response