This Article is printed in the MayJune 2011 edition of the Adventist Messenger.
Did you know, approximately 925 million people on planet earth will go to bed hungry tonight? And, every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds!
Wikipedia describes poverty as, “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.”
Poverty is a rising concern that prevents many people from having the basic needs for life that you and I living in Canada, everyday take for granted.
Instead of just talking about poverty, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the worldwide agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for humanitarian outreach, relief and development, is hard at work to help combat its deadly effects on our society.
The story of ADRA begins shortly after the Second World War when the Church established the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS). To reflect its worldwide involvement, in 1973 its name changed to the Seventh-day Adventist World Service and then in the early 1980’s the familiar name ADRA was adopted.
Pastor James Astleford, Donor Relations Director for ADRA Canada, told me that in the early 1980’s the Adventist church realized they needed to do more then just hand out “fish to the hungry”, they needed to be teaching people how to “fish so that they could feed themselves for a life time”. This concept led not only to a name change in 1984, but also to a philosophy change focused on helping people beyond the immediate needs of the day.
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.
In its day–to-day operations, ADRA Canada uses many types of technology to connect and share with people the needs of a world in poverty.
For the past 22 years, ADRA Canada has been sending out video presentations to every church in the Canadian Union. Originally, these were sent out on VHS tapes, and currently are sent out on DVD, two to three times a year. These video presentations are an excellent tool for educating each congregation to the life-changing stories of ADRA’s development and relief efforts. Besides being available on DVD, the video presentations are also made available online through YouTube and the ADRA Canada website at http://www.adra.ca. James Astleford told me that ADRA Canada is working on integrating a dedicated video platform with their current website that will allow for HD content and an overall enhanced video viewing experience.
Also, in utilizing the technology of video, It is Written Canada recently aired three programs with interviews of Pastor Ronald Kuhn, Executive Director for ADRA Canada and Pastor James Astleford. And, to aid awareness of the work of ADRA Canada, a short video clip was regularly aired on CTV during the Japan disaster.
Alicia Sawyer, Donor Relations Assistant for ADRA Canada, said that ADRA Canada is currently connecting with people through the online technology of social media including Facebook (ADRA Canada) and Twitter (@adracanada). “Social media are great ways to get immediate information and inspirational stories out to people”, said Alicia, who is hoping for many new connections to build a greater awareness of ADRA Canada.
ADRA Canada’s eNews (email newsletter), generates many responses from the approximately 6,000 subscribers. James Astleford said, “people are quick to respond to requests for immediate financial aide from the eNews stories relating to current disasters such as the Japan Earthquake”. A growing number of ADRA Canada’s supporters are now donating online rather then through their local church. (Provided donors identify their membership, such contributions still count towards the local church goal.)
As ADRA Canada continues to stay on the cutting edge of technology, it is currently exploring some very exciting technological initiatives for the future. I am told that text donations may soon be an option for donors and the idea of mobile apps is being explored for iPhone and android devices.
For those who want to learn first hand how ADRA Canada is transforming lives, ADRA Canada has launched a new initiative called, ADRA Connections that Pastor James Astleford describes as, “putting Canadians in direct touch with the activities of ADRA Canada”. Elizabeth Horniachek, ADRA Connections Coordinator, told me that people are positive about the program and are very excited about getting “hands-on” with ADRA Canada.
I look forward to the day Jesus talked about in Revelation 7, “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore;… and God will wipe every tear from their eyes”. Please continue to do your part in the battle against poverty so that Jesus can say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me”. Help ADRA Canada save lives.