“I’m literally blown away by everything we’ve seen,” Michael Nyenhuis said. “I’m blown away by the scale and the breadth of all of it.”
Nyenhuis and others from UNICEF USA were hosted by senior Church leaders and the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services Department on Jan. 12, reported ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services for the Church, led tours of the humanitarian sites and told the group she hoped they saw three things.
“I hope you’ll see evidence of people trying to put their faith in Jesus Christ into some kind of practical action. I hope you’ll see a reverence for the dignity of the human soul, all people, whatever the faith or tradition or political persuasion they belong to. And I hope you’ll see that the ethos of serving voluntarily without getting paid outside yourself is good for social fabric, and it’s good for the human soul,” Sister Eubank said.
Nyenhuis said he saw the Church living the mission that Jesus Christ gave to be His hands and feet.
“You’re not just do-gooders. You’re actually called to this, and I think that calling that faith-based people have to this work makes them more committed,” he said.
10 years of Church collaboration with UNICEF
Since 2013, UNICEF and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have worked together globally on closely-aligning goals for child nutrition and immunization, including maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination — reaching 10 million women with a vaccine to keep them safe.
The two organizations also work together to assist refugees in emergency situations and have reached 115,000 refugee children in multiple countries through the Learning for Life program.
During the pandemic, the Church also joined a global effort to distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccines.
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé expressed gratitude for the long-standing collaboration with UNICEF.
“Their work to care for vulnerable children and their families around the world closely aligns with the Church’s global focus on early childhood nutrition. We strive to follow Christ’s admonition to love and serve our neighbor,” said Bishop Caussé.
During their visit to Salt Lake City, Nyenhuis and his colleagues met with the Presiding Bishopric on Temple Square.
“I think there are several areas where we can work really effectively with the Church, and one of them is in the area of immunizations. It’s a high priority for the Church and the Church’s strategy, and it is core to UNICEF,” Nyenhuis explained. “And then there’s the area of nutrition. We’re seeing a massive nutrition crisis for children around the world today.”
Continuing to collaborate to care for those in need
The delegation attended a dinner on Temple Square the night of Jan. 12 with Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Caussé, Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and Elder Blaine R. Maxfield, Area Seventy and managing director of the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services.
President Johnson said working with UNICEF on efforts like the “No Time to Waste” program will provide better nutrition and health for children.
“This global effort is especially aligned with the mission of the Church’s Relief Society to relieve suffering, including children experiencing malnutrition,” she said. “We express our love to children around the world and are committed to the work to help end life-threatening forms of malnutrition and provide healthier, happier lives to young children.”
Elder Maxfield said a key priority for the Church is to provide relief to the growing levels of hunger and malnutrition across the globe. “Our contributions and collaboration with UNICEF USA help the most vulnerable children and mothers worldwide.”
After concluding the tour of Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center, Nyenhuis shared his thoughts while sitting in front of the Christus statue in the Conference Center.
“I saw the Church today really living into their mission that Jesus gave to be His hands and feet in their own communities and then around the world,” Nyenhuis said.