Paulsen Comforts Haitian Adventists:
‘Don’t Lose Courage’
North America votes $775,000; plans offering to raise $1M
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, with MEGAN BRAUNER, Adventist News Network
our brothers and sisters around the world, they think about you, they pray for you, they want to be involved and want you to know that they are your family. … Don’t lose courage,” said Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in a Jan. 20, 2010 statement aired on the church’s Hope Channel as part of a fund-raising effort to aid victims of the Haitian earthquake eight days earlier. Estimates suggest 200,000 people may have perished in the earthquake, although Adventist leaders are still determining how many members may have died in the temblor.
Paulsen’s words came hours after a magnitude 6.1 aftershock struck Haiti, renewing anxiety among survivors.
“The scale of the suffering that has been inflicted on the nation and the people [of Haiti] is unimaginable. And you really have to live in it to know what it is like,” Paulsen told Hope Channel viewers.
“We want to be involved, we want to participate and show our sense of brotherhood with the people of Haiti,” he said. “As a Seventh-day Adventist, I think of my own church members in Haiti who have suffered so much. ... When an opportunity comes for you to give money; if you are a medical doctor with a specialty and you can give service, be available.”
Paulsen urged Adventists to encourage their children to participate in aiding Haitian victims: “Tell your children about this. Help your children to discover that even in these tragedies that we share humanity; when something happens anywhere in the world on this scale that we have a responsibility them, and to God and to our own Christian commitment to do something extraordinary, to become engaged in healing,” he said.
PRESIDENTIAL APPEAL: Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, on the set at the church’s Hope Channel Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, on January 20, 2010. He broadcast an appeal to Adventists to help their brethren in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. [Photo: M. Brauner/ANN]
Looking beyond the earthquake, Paulsen said, “Haiti will heal, they will recover, the people will recover. My hope and prayer for Haiti is that the future of Haiti will be better than its past. Let this become an opportunity … that a better nation will emerge.”
The world Adventist Church and its divisions are working to help the Adventist Church in Haiti recover as well. On Jan. 19, the General Conference Administrative Committee voted a donation of $200,000 to help rebuild churches and other facilities; later that day, the North American Division voted to send $600,000 to Haiti, with NAD unions adding at least $175,000 to that total.
A special February 6, 2010 Sabbath offering will be collected in NAD congregations for Haitian church relief, said Fred Kinsey, assistant to the NAD president for communication.
Speaking with Adventist News Network after the televised comments, Paulsen noted, “I talked to [Inter-America Adventist Church president Israel] Leito this morning about donations. So far the donations have exceeded $1 million. This is specifically for church recovery, and there is more to come from other divisions. ADRA works with even hands to help everyone, but this donation is given specifically to our churches in Haiti. It signifies how intensely our church family feels about the situation.”
ADRA continues to receive donations. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America has set up a special fund account specifically to assist church members. Donations may be sent by check to the Inter-American Division, Re: Haiti Catastrophe Fund, 8100 S.W. 117th Avenue, Miami, Florida, 33183. Donors can also e-mail email@example.com; for updated news on Haiti, visit http://www.interamerica.org