Alleviating Poverty

As much as I’d like to discuss the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in France today on charges of “aggravated pimping,” I want to take the high road. I want to discuss an article dated February 16th in Christianity Today (CT). It is an article discussing the alleviation of poverty in the world. In this article CT discusses a Brookings Institute report on poverty in the world that states poverty has been cut in half. CT goes on to say that the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty in half between the years 1990 and 2015 was met three years ago. The question in my mind is how did this happen? How have the fortunes for those at the bottom of pyramid change?

CT states, “Not by large donations, micro enterprise programs, or child sponsorship, but rather sheer economic growth, has effected this change” However, the majority of this change is focused in India and China. These two countries are responsible for three quarters of the reduction in poverty within the world. The main reason for this change is macroeconomic decisions made by these countries/

CT contrasts the effectiveness of India and China with the ineffectiveness of the Church in this arena. “What these findings demonstrate is the church’s relative ineffectiveness and impotency at helping the poor. Some Christian activists have been trying to motivate us to care for the poor by pointing out how they are neglected by society. The state is a clumsy and arrogant institution, they argue, and not doing its job.” The church should step in and create micro financing opportunities and lobby governments. But why isn’t the church affective in serving the poor? Aren’t we called to meet the needs of the least of these?

The problem begins with trying to get Christians to agree on anything. Some of us believe the role of the church is to teach the word of God, and then individuals will go out and be the church. Others recognize the weakness of this premise because of our fallen nature. We would rather sit and be fed sweet nothings rather than live messy lives of ministry to the poor.

Getting involved with the messy lives of people in distinctively following Jesus. Sunday in church Pastor Don reminded me of something that is important for us to think about. The term Christian was a title given to followers of Jesus as a derogatory term. It was a put down. Therefore a more accurate description of what we need to be is followers of Jesus. As we follow Him we will meet the needs of the poor. If we are following Him, and he is the one who told us to care for the poor, then I am positive that is what we would do.

CT alludes to this fact.With this end in view, when we inevitably enter a period in history when poverty gets worse, either globally or locally, we won’t get discouraged. We are involved with the poor not because we’re going to make a difference, but primarily because we are gladly responding to the call of a gracious God to show forth the Good News – in deeds of justice and mercy, and more importantly, in gospel words – that we will defeat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”

It is not our responsibility to be successful, it is our job to follow.

And that is my thought for the day!


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