Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the end of poverty

I just finished Jeffrey Sachs' book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. There is so much to talk about that I can't even imagine where to start. 1 b(B!)illion people living on less than $1 a day. People dying for lack of a $3 injection. Lack of sanitation, electricity, even adequate roads to get to a market to sell or buy. The Western world is flipping out over a handful of people who have died of bird flu (and maybe rightly so) while 10,000 people die every day in Africa and other parts of the developing world - many of diseases that don't even exist any more in wealthy nations. (You can find much more on global extreme poverty and what can be done here)
I could go on and on (and I'm sure I will in the days to come), but for now I'll cut it short. The Church has a responsibility to these people (see Matthew 25 if you have any questions). Not to send more missionaries or food baskets, but to use finances and other resources in meaningful ways to help people in extreme poverty find their way into the modern world.
What if every religious body in the US chose to give 1% of their budget to a fund that was dedicated to helping governments in Africa build roads or distribute vaccines or dig wells or replenish depleted land for agriculture? What if, instead of sending people to build churches, we sent people to build the Kingdom by healing the sick and providing for AIDS widows and orphans and helping fathers provide for their families and . . .? What if instead of taking only the message of salvation and eternal possibilities to these people (again, nothing wrong with the message) we took all of the Gospel to them? The parts about "good news to the poor" and "freedom for the prisoners" and "release for the oppressed". Could it be that building a road from a village to a market or providing funding for a doctor to work full time in an empty clinic or helping a village install solar panels for electricity are significant evangelistic events on par with telling the story of Jesus?
So much for cutting it short. I pray that the handful of you who will read my raving will be affected enough to respond in some simple way. In the next couple of days I will be adding some sites to the right column that speak to these issues and what "little folks" like us can do to help.
Enough from me tonight. But more to come.
PS - I'm not just jacked up b/c of the book, but if you are so inclined, it will jack you up.


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