There are moments in our collective memories that unanimously come into our minds when we talk about events that affected the course of history during our lifetime. If I quickly think about it, I immediately remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, September 11, the Southeast Asia Tsunami, or the Iraq wars. In 2020, we are experiencing one of such events: The global COVID-19 pandemic. For as long as we live, we will never forget this year and the disruption it brought into our lives.
When we recall past events, even if they affected our lives globally, the direct impact was very local in the areas where they happened. The current pandemic is a global humanitarian crisis affecting all the countries in the world, with the virus contaminating several of us, our families, neighbors, and friends. Indeed, we are all in this together.
It has also shown that the experience ADRA has gained in responding to emergencies worldwide has been essential in responding to this global event as well. Particularly in Europe, we have witnessed the emergence of many projects, even in countries where we had never before implemented any projects. Suddenly, Europe became an emergency continent, and we had to mobilize our workers, volunteers, and church members. We were able to respond to the need of those most affected by the pandemic.
We recently celebrated a special date in a special year: World Humanitarian Day on August 19, 2020. As I think about this day, I have to recall all the tireless efforts of ADRA workers and volunteers in Europe that had to instantly become humanitarian workers on the front line of a global crisis, often putting their own health at risk. I have listened to so many stories and read so many reports about how almost 2,000 people became a blessing to others in their hour of deepest need. ADRA leaders were able to partner with the local churches and mobilize church members to be an active blessing in their communities.
In moments like this, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in the most obvious way. While on this earth, he was the noblest example of a humanitarian worker that we can find, always seeking the wellbeing of those he got in touch with. We have the privilege of following his example.
History will recall this crisis for many years. But even more than the crisis, what I will never forget is what Jesus will also always remember: The loving way his children became a blessing to others.
Today, I want to pay my special tribute to all ADRA workers and volunteers who, by forgetting their self-interest, have shown the justice, compassion, and love of Jesus. I have no doubts that from his throne in Heaven, our God is telling each one of you: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:34-36).
Happy World Humanitarian Day!
João Martins is a regional director of ADRA Europe