We are overwhelmed by statistics.
This year, 11 million children under the age of 5 will die from preventable diseases. Forty million people are HIV positive worldwide. Those living in extreme poverty, which means that they survive on less than U.S. $1 a day, number over one billion. Almost half of the world’s population has no clean water and sanitation.
Yet these grim realities rarely make their way into national headlines, not to mention recognition in the pulpit or Sunday school classroom.
Why the oversight? Well, for one reason, it is much easier to ignore the harsh facts than to deal with them. Understandably, admitting the amount of pain and suffering in the world is a heavy, unpopular topic to discuss. It is easier to focus on the needs of the local church rather than the seemingly unending needs of the worldwide community.
Yet not every issue surrounding poverty and hunger is ignored. The church typically responds to immediate needs such as providing food and medicine after catastrophic natural disasters (with the tsunami as the most poignant of examples). While large disasters hit the headlines, it is easy to forget that a disaster to one person is equally devastating.
Perhaps the most accurate explanation for why the church ignores a hurting world is simply an overwhelming tendency towards ignorance. But this is not an adequate excuse for inactivity. Throughout the gospels, Jesus spoke about fair and just monetary transactions. It was not merely for the early church; the church today has a responsibility to respond fiscally and tangibly to a hurting world.
That is why <Baptist World Aid has supported the Baptist Center for Ethics’ production of “Always…Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty.” The DVD helps point the church in the right direction by challenging congregation members and leaders alike to realize that we are all called to live more simply so that others may simply live!
While the statistics on suffering are tremendous, this is not to say there is no hope to end poverty and hunger. This dream can be attained because already there is enough food in our world to feed all those who are hungry. We, as the church, need the resolve and determination to take necessary actions to ensure this happens.
Education resources, such as “Always…Therefore,” are the first step, and certainly not last, in our responsible response.
Click here to donate to Baptist World Aid.
Click here to learn about and purchase “Always … Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty.”