In the first 12 days of the war in Ukraine, more than 1.2 million refugees have crossed the Polish border to escape Russian aggression. The people of Poland, without any hesitation, have opened not only their hearts but also their homes to the refugees crossing into their country.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland also offered its help. The Adventist community of about 6,000 has prepared more than 1,200 shelters on church properties and in private homes. As of March 4, almost 400 people have benefited from their assistance, leaders reported.
Adventist relief organisations are also involved. Volunteers from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Poland visited several border and reception crossings, where they handed out parcels and organized accommodation while learning about the most urgent needs of people fleeing the war. ADRA has been preparing and distributing “Start Packages” — a set of basic personal hygiene items for people crossing the border. It is also involved in humanitarian transport to Ukraine.
The Christian Charity Service “Blisko Serca” (Close to the Heart) has allocated two of its centers to receive refugees from Ukraine. Collectively, the Orion center in Wisła and the Polubie center in Zatonie are prepared to host more than 70 people.
The Polish Senior College of Theology and Humanities in Podkowa Leśna has already welcomed more than 30 people. Plans are underway for additional buildings and premises to be made available, increasing the number of people who can be sheltered. A kindergarten for refugee children, operated by volunteers from the local church, will also open on the campus in the coming days.
Younger church members are also engaged in the relief effort. The Adventist Scouting Association (ZHA) and the Pathfinders organized charity collections all over Poland. The response was huge. Sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blankets, pillows, duvets, hygiene products, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, diapers, medicines, medical aids, and heating stoves are already on their way. The donations were sent to the western part of Ukraine, in keeping with the migration of people coming from the eastern part of the country.
Ryszard Jankowski, president of the Polish Union Conference of the Adventist Church, along with Tomasz Żelazko, another minister, visited one of the border crossings, and on their way back to Warsaw, the men offered a group of refugees a ride in their vehicle.
“It is impossible to describe the scale of activities that are carried out not only by the Adventist Church through its institutions but above all by individual members of the community and local churches,” church leaders said. “Many local churches have paused organising Sabbath services while their premises currently serve as accommodation. A lot of people are sacrificing not only their finances but most of all, opening their own homes and welcoming those in need.”
Originally published as “Compassion without limits” on the Adventist Review website.
Daniel Kluska, Polish Union Conference, and Adventist Review