The real, long-term effort of LDS Charities is to build character, said the worldwide leader of the humanitarian organization on Thursday evening.
Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities — the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — said she believes “every person can give something of value and every person can receive something of value.”
Humanitarian projects sponsored by LDS Charities are, at their core, about rescuing the seed “of what is finest down deep inside each person and giving it an opportunity to grow and flower,” she said.
Eubank offered the address at a "Pioneers in Every Land" lecture, hosted by the LDS Church History Library and titled “That They Might Not Suffer.”
The address, held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, featured the work of LDS Charities during the year the organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
During her remarks, Eubank referenced a 1985 invitation from then LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball inviting church members to fast for famine victims in Ethiopia. The fast marked the beginning of what would become LDS Charities.
In the 30 years since the Jan. 27, 1985, fast, the church has sent $1.2 billion in assistance to those in need. LDS Charities has also provided long-term aid through initiatives including wheelchairs, clean water, vision care, neonatal resuscitation training, immunizations, family garden projects and disaster relief, Eubank said.
She said there are three “foundational planks” in the platform of LDS Charities.
- Humanitarian acts “rooted in a desire to listen, to heal, to cooperate, to respect” are as potent agents for change as anything on the earth, she said.
- “Charity is more than aid,” Eubank added, noting that true charity emphasizes dignity, human worth, cooperation, unity, sacrifice and assurance that no one is too poor or too marginalized to contribute something of value.
- Humanitarian acts that foster real change come with a significant relationship, she said. “Everything is local. … Our most powerful acts are in the place where we live.”
As an example of why the LDS Church has a humanitarian outreach, Eubank referenced a story of Dutch Latter-day Saints who raised potatoes after World War II. She said the real horror of World War II began in Holland in late 1940 when German troops overran the country in five days, leaving 40,000 civilians dead and destroying 400,000 homes.
Despite this, Dutch Mormons — who grew potatoes in 1947 — determined to give their entire 70-ton crop to German church members. This generous act “would heal the hearts of bitter enemies.”
“It is one thing to talk about brotherhood. It is a different thing entirely to act in brotherhood,” Eubank said.
She said today there are “pioneers in every land” whose charitable work — like the work of the Dutch who shared their crop — does much to "build charity and capability in people.”
There is something every person can do to help another, she said. “If you will brave the frontiers of your own love … you will be a pioneer,” Eubank said. “This world needs pioneers.”