In Slovenia SDA church and ADRA work hand-in-hand to help refugees

In Slovenia SDA church and ADRA work hand-in-hand to help refugees

Slovenian Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is partnering with ADRA Slovenia in encouraging church members to serve as volunteers in ADRA’s activities as well as providing some activities for refugees who are based in the center at Debeli rtič.

ADRA Slovenia has ambassadors in every church in the country, where they mostly help with information sharing, promotion of programs, collecting material and financial donations, and volunteer support coordination.

ADRA Slovenia formed its response to the war in Ukraine in phases. In the beginning, they gathered material donations (shelter and hygiene kits) and distributed them with the cooperation of the Slovenian Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

“ADRA helped equip two refugee centers with various donations that included beds, children’s safe space supplies, and toys. Additionally, we helped with housing for refugee families and provided gas vouchers for those in transit. Throughout our response, we collaborated with the Slovenian Medical chamber collecting medical supplies for hospitals in Ukraine and in the field war zones. In the second stage, we started distributing food and hygiene vouchers and implementing regular psycho-social support workshops, especially for women and children. Recently, we helped organize the celebration of World refugee day in three of the refugee centers coordinated by the Government Office for Migrations”, Katja Kotnik, director of ADRA Slovenia explains their activities.

Through Health Department, the Slovenian conference has conducted a Health Expo which provided some basic health measurements/parameters and practical advice on how to care for own health even in the middle of a very difficult stage of refugees’ life.

“As a church, we have also conducted a Family Fun Day with various sports and social games and activities. Our church in Ljubljana has donated table tennis and some equipment which provides an opportunity for continuous and meaningful sports activity,” explained Zmago Godina, president of the Slovenian Conference of Seventh-day Adventist church.

Young church members in Slovenia got active in helping with sorting material donations and implementing workshops for women and children. They prepared gifts by baking healthy cookies and designing gift cards for refugees.

“Immediately after the beginning of the Ukraine War, we have invited our church members to donate financial funds needed in the initial response and to provide information on whether they could offer a place where refugees could stay for some time (if needed) or any other help they are willing to provide. We have also offered a short-term stay for some of the families that were traveling from Ukraine to other countries and offered ADRA a possibility to use our regular Friday night Zoom meeting for offering information on the situation in Ukraine and how to get involved,” Godina describes the first activities in the spring.

The partnership with ADRA is very important for the conference and its churches as they provide a great opportunity for church members and ministries to serve and thus participate in the mission of the church by providing help and care for those who need them.  

“ADRA Slovenia is highly dependent on the support and involvement of churches and church members in our programs, as they are the best information sharers, so our calls go out to the public. Our church members are our most devoted donation collectors and support helping others with volunteer work,” says the director of ADRA Slovenia.

Godina is also emphasizing that Adventists should support refugees of all backgrounds, even when they have different religious beliefs: “That’s a mandate we find repeated many times in the Bible (see Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; 25:35; Hebrews 13,1-2; Matthew 25:35 and other texts). Although these texts do not use term “refugee” it is clear that the terms that are used apply to people that we would today call “displaced persons”, “refugees”, “migrants”, “immigrants”, etc. It is at the same time our privilege and duty to provide help and show support to any person who might be described with any of the terms used above regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion, or any other personal descriptor. Jesus showed practical love to everyone regardless of her or his religion – and so should we as his disciples!”