Local communities joined together at the Greenway Auditorium in Coleraine, Minnesota last November to raise awareness and donations for the growing Syrian refugee crisis. It is estimated that between 7-9 million Syrians have fled their homes and entered neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.

Pastor Doug Hardt of the Iron Range District (which includes Blackberry, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Northome and International Falls) saw firsthand the challenges faced by refugees during his visit to Iraq last year. In an effort to help alleviate the suffering, the Blackberry Church invited local musicians from churches and schools in their area to collaborate in a benefit concert to aid the refugee work.

Choirs from the Deer River, Grand Rapids and Greenway high schools participated, along with the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus, the St. Andrew’s Men’s Choir, a quartet of Russian teenagers, and the pastor’s daughter, Nicole Hardt.

The program was full of inspiring music that pervaded the auditorium with a sense of hope. Pastor Hardt also spoke and showed pictures of the refugee crisis.

Perhaps this—in a small way—is what Elder Dan Jackson talked about in his Grand Collaboration message given at the North American Division Year-end Meetings. His point was if every person can actively be involved in helping in some way, a lot of good can be accomplished. As members of the Christian church, and Seventh-day Adventists in particular, we need to learn to collectively express Adventism throughout our territory. We are stronger if we work as a team, collaborating with the forces of good to do good.

Concert-goers showed their appreciation for the talents of the performers and generously contributed to the UNICEF charity that is working specifically with the children affected by the refugee crisis. Over $4,500 was raised at the benefit, far exceeding expectations.