This has been a deeply troubling week for me. Our nation is reeling economically and the anxiety level is palpable. The non-stop coverage by the media on this issue seems only to fuel the fear and tension. And with 40 some days to the election, the skeptic within me questions how politicized every solution offered actually is (and I write this at 9:25 AM, just minutes before President Bush is slated to make another statement on the bailout plan).
I am not an economist; my understanding of the issues on Wall Street from both a macro and micro level is incredibly limited. I have been accused by some to be both politically and economically naive. That may be true. But I do know that I am deeply troubled this week.$700 billion is a whole lot of money; more money that I can wrap my brain around. And I don’t know what would happen (and or will) if the bailout plan isn’t resolved quickly.
This recent statement from Bono only adds fuel to the stirring in my soul. He said, “it’s extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.”
Every Friday I join with people from around the globe and pray the Micah Challenge. “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). The Micah Challenge is committed to praying for and working toward a 50% reduction in global poverty by 2015.
Recently, a group of evangelical leaders from the Church in the Global South issued a pastoral letter to the Church in the United States. The letter highlights the great good that the United States has done in the developing world. Millions of lives have been saved through relief and development efforts undertaken by both the US government and through the generosity of both private citizens and the community of faith. This week, as I have been thinking about some of the heroes in our community of faith, I have a great sense of pride and joy in the individuals, families, and groups who are bringing real help and hope to the children of Guraghe, Ethiopia. Through our partnership with World Vision, the root causes of poverty, disease, and death are not only being confronted but being defeated as new life and hope is springing forth.
And yet, despite a commitment we made as a nation to join with other G8 nations to the goal spending 0.7 percent of their GNP on global aid, the United States, is at the bottom of the list of what the G8 nations have contributed toward the reduction of poverty, disease, and death, spending just 0.16 percent of its income on development assistance and poverty reduction.
And so, in the midst of a deeply troubling week, I invite you to prayerfully read this pastoral letter to the Church in the United States. Let us have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
TO THE CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES
As the Church of the Lord in what is known as the “Southern” part of the world, moved by the Holy Spirit to fight for the abundant life that Jesus Christ offers, we address our Christian family in the United States, a Church of the same covenant, faith and love. Grace and Peace to all of our brothers and sisters.
We know your works of love; these works have allowed millions of human beings for many generations in our countries in the South to receive the gospel, the Grace of Jesus Christ and the power of His Salvation. The U.S. church’s untiring missionary effort planted in our lands Hope in Him who came to reconcile EVERYTHING.
Nevertheless, the political, social and economic situation in the places where this hope has been announced is increasingly distressing. Millions of people in the global South are dying of hunger, violence and injustice. These situations of poverty and pain are not simply the product of the internal functions of our countries; rather they are the results of the international policies of the governments that wield global power.
Therefore, we have this against you, brothers and sisters, that along with this powerful announcing of the Gospel, the Church from the United States has not also raised its voice in protest against the injustices that powerful governments and institutions are inflicting on the global South – injustices that afflict the lives and ecosystems of millions of people who, centuries after the proclamation of the Gospel, still have not seen the sweat of their brow turned into bread.
The worsening inequality and poverty in the South is alarming. Seven years since the United States and 191 other nations publicly promised to cut extreme global poverty in half by the year 2015 through the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), your country has made only a little progress towards fulfilling its commitments. The MDGs should stir us to action because they echo the calls of the biblical prophets for justice and equity. Further, they are achievable and measurable markers on the roadmap to end extreme global poverty.
And so we ask you as sisters and brothers, citizens of the wealthiest most powerful nation on earth, to publicly challenge your candidates and political leaders – now and after the elections are over – to lead the world in the struggle to cut global poverty in half by 2015. If you who know the Truth will not speak for us who will?
The Church in the United States has the opportunity today to be faithful to the Hope that it preaches. We urge you to remember that the Hope to which you were called as a messenger demands that you seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s justice.
Out of love for us, the global Church, in holiness, use your citizenship responsibly for the benefit of the entire world; it is for this very reason that the Lord poured out His life on the Cross.
All who have ears, let them hear what the Lord says to His Church.