Baptists: Governments Must Keep Promise to Poor


Two Oklahoma Baptist leaders are calling for Baptists to take action to assure that governments keep their financial commitments to poorer countries even in the midst of a global financial downturn.

In October, some 117 million people in 131 countries took part in a United Nations-led campaign to demand that world leaders keep their promises to cut extreme global poverty in half and achieve other U.N. Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015.

Global leaders committed $16 billion toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals in September.

Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, told EthicsDaily.com that the $16 billion commitment is "pitiful in comparison with the trillions recently committed to rescue the institutions of wealthy American financiers, brokers and bureaucrats whose reckless greed and irresponsible stewardship led to our current economic meltdown."

On Oct. 24, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the global financial crisis was threatening the United Nation's efforts to help the world's poor and hungry.

"It threatens to undermine all our achievements and all our progress," Ban told a meeting of U.N. agency chiefs devoted to the crisis, according to a Reuters story. "It could be the final blow that many of the poorest of the world's poor simply cannot survive."

Ban said the financial crisis should not be allowed to hit hardest "those least responsible"—the poor in developing countries. He said he plans to make that argument during a Nov. 15 financial summit in Washington which has been called by President Bush, according to the Reuters story.

Prescott said he applauds groups who have "stepped to the forefront of efforts to assure that world governments honor their commitments to the U.N. Millennium goals."

"I encourage all moderate and mainstream Baptists to put this on their daily prayer list and make it a priority in their vocal and visible incarnational witnessing efforts," Prescott said to EthicsDaily.com.

"If, or when, inflation and/or devaluation reduces the value of the dollar, Christians should insist that the United States meet its obligations toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals with dollars equivalent to the value of our currency when our commitment was made," he said.

T Thomas, coordinator of Oklahoma Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said Baptists should consider Proverbs 21:13 which states, "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."

"I think the lesson from that is that even our prayer life can be affected by how we view and act toward those who are less fortunate in the world," Thomas told EthicsDaily.com. "We have a responsibility to that, a biblical responsibility to live a 'Good Samaritan' life."

Thomas said he is disappointed by many churches that do not tithe in support of missions and efforts to address global poverty.

He suggested that Baptists can start at the local level by volunteering at a soup kitchen or by contributing to a food drive. They can also support organizations such as Bread for the World, a Christian group that lobbies the U.S. government in a non-partisan way to address hunger and poverty both in the United States and abroad.

"Doing things like that is a very proactive way [to address hunger] instead of sitting around and saying 'Oh, ain't it awful,'" Thomas said. "We can all do something against hunger in our life."

Charlotte Tubbs is a freelance writer for EthicsDaily.com.

Resource link:

DVD: "Always … Therefore: The Church's Challenge of Global Poverty"

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