News Release

Sister Eubank Explains How the Church Was Ready to Help Refugees in Europe

She says the Church of Jesus Christ is committed to helping people rebuild their societies

As an organization with members all over the world, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feels the pain of conflicts everywhere.

The leader of the Church’s humanitarian outreach told a group of thought leaders on Friday that the crisis in Ukraine is no exception.

“We have members in all the countries affected,” said Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency and president of Latter-day Saint Charities. “We have members in Russia who are feeling the difficult effects of sanctions. We have members in Poland and Germany and Slovakia and Hungary and Moldova and Russia. They’re all receiving enormous amounts of refugees and generously giving the help that they can. And we have members in Ukraine who are facing impossible choices in the destruction of their beautiful country.”

Sister Eubank’s remarks came during a plenary session of the virtual Horasis USA Meeting, led by Abe Nejad, publisher of the Network Media Group. Horasis is an independent think tank based in Zurich, Switzerland. Elder Neal L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at a Horasis event in Portugal in 2017.

Sister Eubank said the Church humanitarian arm keeps a two-year reserve of funding to enable the faith to nimbly respond to crises. The money it uses comes from the generous donations of Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith.

“[Having funds in place] allowed us to pre-position food and water several weeks ago,” she said. “It allows us to be right on the border with what the people need and be responsive because the needs change every single day as the situation goes forward.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is committed to the long-term needs of the affected countries in Europe, as it is wherever it has projects, Sister Eubank said.

“The disaster is only the very beginning,” she said. “What we really care about is helping people spiritually, emotionally and physically recover and build their societies back. That’s the commitment from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And it’s my life’s work. I really love it.”

Religion’s Power in Humanitarian Crises

Sister Eubank called on governments and policymakers to recognize the essential role that faith communities play in effective responses to humanitarian crises. “The good that religion can do, especially when it comes to integration and achieving sustainable development, is amplified when religious groups work with government and nongovernmental organizations,” she said.

The Latter-day Saint Charities leader asked journalists to balance their religion reporting with “stories of goodness, humanity, faith in God and cooperation.” And she invited viewers to commit themselves to living out Christ’s two great commandments: Love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.

“It will take authentic religion to approach radical problems,” Sister Eubank said. “Authentic Islam will be much better at combating some of the elements that may be destructive. Authentic Christianity will be better at reaching toward radical elements of [Christianity]. This is the opportunity that we have. Faith is actually the answer.”

Foundational Principles for Humanitarian Work

Sister Eubank outlined three basic principles to engage in more effective humanitarian outreach: choice, the dignity of meaningful work, and the unifying power of cooperation.

Choice. Sister Eubank referenced a photo of a young woman in northern Iraq holding a donated blanket of fake pink fur in winter. Though the blanket was perhaps not the most practical choice for this woman, the point is that she had choice, Sister Eubank said.

“The ability for her to choose has been taken away from her in so many ways. She can’t pick what she eats, where she lives, how she worships, or who she’s with. And a small thing, even like a coat and protecting her ability to choose that, is one way of restoring the dignity and the ability for self-determination that has been ripped away in a disaster,” Sister Eubank said.

The Dignity of Meaningful Work. Sister Eubank shared a story from Mosul, Iraq, after its liberation from ISIS forces. Latter-day Saint Charities helped a Chaldean priest get a school running again by helping the schoolchildren’s parents build the school themselves.

“So here you had these middle-aged fathers who had never picked up a power tool before, but they’re welding the frames and they put the wood on the top,” Sister Eubank said. “And at the end, when those polished desks were finished and their little children were sitting in them, they’re standing at the back, they are filled with pride. They’re filled with [a thought of], ‘I did this. I provided. I’m not a failure. I provided this for my family. And if we can get together as a community to build desks, what else can we do?”

The Unifying Power of Cooperation. Sister Eubank said voluntary service is not being used to its full potential. She pointed to JustServe, a free app that helps communities come together in service.

“People are the heart of the solution,” she said. “[Cooperative activities] remind us that we’re all children of the same God. Faith communities are perfectly positioned to do this because we’re very good at trying to make humanity come together and achieve a larger goal.”

Photo Courtesy of

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.