Modeled After Mission

A brief history of ADRA

Shanna Duke
Modeled After Mission

The work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is modeled after the mission of Christ: to offer love, compassion, and hope to the most vulnerable. That same mission is embraced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose principles shape and direct the work of ADRA in communities all around the world. Indeed, serving as the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is ADRA’s greatest strength. 

Established in 1956 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ADRA underwent two name changes before becoming the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in 1984. While our name changed throughout the early years, our core principles remained. In 1958 the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS) reported disaster relief shipments to 22 countries with a total value of $485,000. Four years later the number of countries served increased to 29, totaling $2.3 million worth of supplies. By the mid-1970s we began to broaden our mission from disaster relief to long-term development projects in vulnerable communities. In 1997 ADRA was granted General Consultative Status by the United Nations, the highest status given to nongovernmental organizations. This allowed us the opportunity to participate in the international community on a broader scale. 

Today ADRA is a leading humanitarian agency operating in more than 120 countries with a dedicated team of more than 5,000 staff and 7,000 volunteers. ADRA teams around the world respond to an average of two disasters a week, in addition to long-term humanitarian crises and conflicts. While our offices are often miles and oceans apart, we work together as a unified whole, bringing positive transformation to a world in need. 

In 2020, 34.5 million lives were impacted by the compassion and generosity of ADRA supporters and partners all around the world. ADRA seeks to meet needs wherever they exist: single mothers in India; child-headed households in Kenya; those sick and disabled in Mauritania and Lebanon; out-of-school children in Peru; vulnerable girls in Thailand; drought-prone villages in Madagascar. The list goes on. The need is great, but so is our love and compassion for the people we serve. 

Thanks to the vision, stewardship, and faithfulness of our church pioneers and leaders, that same love and compassion have the power to change millions of lives. It is not limited by distance, adversity, or borders. It reaches vulnerable people when they need it most, in greater numbers each year. As new challenges and needs arise, ADRA continues to strive to realize its mission of reflecting God’s love through compassionate acts of humanitarian service.

Shanna Duke