Church President Says Each Tsunami Victim is 'Precious' to God

February 01, 2005

"In the midst of this pain and suffering, these people are not forgotten by God. Each one is precious to Him," said Pastor Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in a statement commenting on the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that struck Southern Asia which he called "an unprecedented humanitarian disaster."

"It is a tragedy on a scale that is difficult to comprehend," Pastor Paulsen said. "We see its continuing impact in the grief of those who mourn their loved ones; in the helplessness of the children who have lost parents; and in the desperation of survivors left without adequate food or water."

Noting the location of the tragedy, he added, "It is a distressing irony that this disaster occurred in a region of the world that is not well equipped to cope with an emergency of this magnitude. The men, women and children who have been caught up in this tragedy are, for the most part, poor and already well acquainted with hardship."

Pastor Paulsen, who formerly was board chairman of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, and who, in more than 40 years of ministry, is well acquainted both with disaster relief and poor conditions in developing nations, urged members of the church to place a proper emphasis on responding to the disaster.

"Now is not the time to ask 'why,' or to search for explanations — some answers we may never have before our Lord returns. Now is a time to act; to reach out to our fellow human beings with compassion; to be Christ's visible symbols of hope in a situation where fear and hopelessness hold sway. This is what we are called to do," he said.

"I trust that each one of you will do what you can to support the ongoing relief work with both your prayers and your resources, whether it is through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or through other organizations engaged in this effort," Pastor Paulsen concluded.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, formally organized in 1863 in the United States, has 13.6 million baptized members, and 25 million people attending weekly worship, in 203 countries and areas around the world. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or ADRA, has worked globally since 1984, carrying on an earlier tradition of Adventist community service.

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