One of the books I am reading in seminary right now is Ron Sider’s Rich Christian in an Age of Hunger. If you have never read the book, I would highly recommend it. But a warning, it is a difficult read in that it makes the reader confront our affluence when compared to the rest of the world and confront what is taught throughout the Bible regarding hunger, poverty, and economics. (Full disclosure: Andrea was impacted by this book as she read it while in India/Nepal, and Ron Sider is one of my professors)
Where would you rank the United States according to how much Foriegn Aid we supply? Top 10 nations? Top 5 nations? Top 1 or 2? According to Sider, who quotes an Orgaization for Co-operation and Developmentstudy Based on the Gross National Product (GNP), the United States ranks dead last among Western donors who provided foreign aid to countries in need. We are the second richest nation in the world (based on GNP) and we give away .14% of our money. Is that shocking to you? It was to me.
There is a scene at the end of Charlie Wilson’s War where Charlie is trying to secure money from Congress to build schools in Afghanistan. I think it was something like ten million dollars. The proposal got voted down. Now, I can’t tell you if that part of the movie is fact or not (the movie was based on a true story), but judging from how little aid we provide, this scene gets play out over and over again.
How should we, as Christians, respond? We can certainly look at a global scale as well as a local. Poverty knows no boundaries. What would our communties and our world look like if we were more generous as a church and as a nation?
In this season of Lent, it is a time for self-examination. I wonder for myself (and invite you to wonder as well), am I living as simply as I can? Or does my lifestyle filled with material stuff? Are there ways that I can help with this issue of poverty? Do I really need the cable package with HBO? Could I reduce my package and support a child through World Vision? Could I stop going to Starbucks and use that money to fund micro-loans to help African business people become self-sustaining? Can I drive my car until the wheels fall off so that I can use the money I would normally be paying a car payment with to help dig wells so people can have clean drinking water?
We are a part of a global community. Our neighbors are not only the people in close proximity with us…our neighbors are made up of people around the world. We have an opportunity, even a responsibility as Christians to pray for, build up, and encourage.
With that said…
- What does your church do to combat poverty in your community? The world?
- What are some ways that you can personally get involved?