When we went looking for Adventists involved in serving their communities, we didn’t have to look far. Adventists in practically every town and village are involved in compassionate ministries. We chose these four to illustrate the creativity and variety of those around the world who demonstrate Christ’s character of compassion.—Editors.
Most days I work as a nursing home assistant in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have a second job, however. As Community Services director of the Palermo Seventh-day Adventist Church, I collect clothes and food items to assist people in need.
For two hours every Wednesday, my team and I assist about 25 individuals who come to our local church, many of whom live in the area. We keep a registry of those who come, and write down what we give to each one of them, to be as fair as possible. We also support other Adventist congregations.
One week, church members from Nueva Pompeya, in the southern
end of the city, came and took all the clothes and food we had collected
to assist people in their neighborhood. Also, some Adventist families
have relocated to work in the impoverished north of Argentina and, after
becoming aware of the needs around them, have gotten in touch with us
to find out what assistance we were able to provide.
More important than what we do is why we do it. Our team’s goal is
simply to follow Jesus; something that requires not only preaching but
doing the Word, with the ultimate goal of helping people to know Jesus.
Along with food and clothes, we offer Bible studies. Every year several
people ask to be baptized as a direct result of this ministry.
For us, the key is this verse from the apostle John: “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Margarita Sandoval is Palermo Seventh-day Adventist Church Adventist Community Services coordinator in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In 2008, when a financial recession hit the United States, members of the Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Diego, California, felt led by God to begin a food ministry for its community.
Will James, then pastor of the church, says, “That ministry opened the church’s eyes to the fact that San Diego is home to more than 250,000 refugees. We soon discovered that these refugees needed more than food, so we began a ministry now known as Friendships for Hope (FFH).”
James adds: “FFH tries to become the family these refugees left behind when they fled for their lives. We teach them English, give them job training opportunities at our thrift store, and walk with them as they learn how to live in a new culture. We’re there to help them learn about the health-care system, provide them with food and clothing, even teach basic hygiene.”
During the past 10 years FFH has helped more than 300 families gain sufficient language and job skills so that they are able to support their families and become productive citizens.
Each week FFH distributes more than 10,000 pounds of food and 400 articles of clothing. It offers classes in English as a second language five days a week. In its community garden, refugees grow foods native to their homelands.
This ministry has forever changed the Paradise Valley church. Individuals representing more than 60 nationalities worship together, with Sabbath School classes in French, Creole, Laotian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Swahili.
I love to help people. I started helping others as a child. I would bring little kids together and do things for them. As a teenager, I sewed dresses for people. When I started working, I shared my salary with people in the community who didn’t have enough. I liked sharing my food. When I came to know Christ, His love polished that innate desire to help others.
God directed me to choose a profession in social work. With my husband’s help we formed Ponacka Kids Club in 2011. Ponacka is an Indian word that means “still waters.” Our aim is to encourage children to be leaders. Our motto is “Leaders in the Making.”
Each Sunday afternoon about 60 kids come to our house for about three hours. Activities include choreography, music, leadership development, and occasional visits to places of interest. We’ve taken kids to visit the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Curious Minds program, which features children discussing diverse issues. One of the children sent the following message:
“Mummy, thank you for the special training you helped me get at Ponacka. It’s taking me places.”
When we came to live in Ashiyie in 2011, we realized that several families lived as squatters in unfinished buildings. We referred 10 children from three of such families to some friends from the Netherlands who run an NGO called KAEME. All of the children now receive various kinds of support from students of Valley View University.
During a visit we came across a 7-year-old girl whom we had prayed for. The girl attends a school wherever and whenever someone is willing to teach her. KAEME is putting up a six-classroom school that will be known as God Is Good Academy at Agormeda.
My family visits the Dodowah Hospital on Sabbath afternoons to pray for the patients. We usually go with theology students from Valley View University.
We lead a team of social workers and psychologists in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare. We identify children who are in orphanages because of poverty, not because they have no families. We reunite children with their families and support them so that they can enjoy family life instead of institutional life. We have reunified 119 children from various orphanages in Ashanti, Greater Accra, and central regions of Ghana. They now live with families in eight regions.
Helena Obeng-Asamoah is a former director of the Department of Children, Ministry of Women, and Children’s Affairs.
In January 2020, 180,000 Chinese working and doing business in the city of Wuhan returned to their homes, bringing with them the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID- 19). Unfortunately, one nearby Chinese city got the distinction of having the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus outside of Hubei province. With nearly the whole country mobilized to help stop the spread of illness in Wuhan, medical institutions in other cities began to seek help from both local and global communities.
We asked members of the community involved in fighting the epidemic what we could do to help. Then we encouraged church members to donate money and pray for God’s guidance and protection. We raised about US$9,000 and used it to buy face masks, hand sanitizer, goggles, infrared thermometers, and instant noodles.
On February 20, the first batch of supplies, together with 10 boxes of instant noodles, was sent to local personnel involved in the campaign in various neighborhoods. This small act won praise from people in the community, the police department, and members of the community involved in fighting the epidemic. Some of those involved in fighting the epidemic expressed their willingness to attend church services after the epidemic is no longer a threat. A few even accepted Jesus as their Saviour.
We were honored to serve Christ as we served our community, as reflected in Jesus’ promise: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40).
This article is based on a report received from China in March. —Editors