Of government, the poor, and God’s mission

I’m just back from two days in Wheaton attending a consultation with Bread for the World and other anti-poverty groups. It was a great interchange of information and ideas. A group is still working on the written affirmations that will come out of the consultation, but in coming posts I will be sharing some of what I heard.

To begin with, here are some some general observations from the consultation:

— There are some amazingly gifted and committed Christian women and men working on the issue of how to interface with governments in meeting the great challenges of the poor worldwide. Christians bring an important perspective to this effort, but governments play an important role if we are to be serious about confronting poverty.

— The problems are complex, and finding effective solutions are not easy because of that complexity and because of competing political and economic interests.

— There are success stories in the realm of U.S. foreign assistance programs of which we are not always aware. There are problems, as well; but the problem is not assistance, it’s in how assistance is delivered.

— Listening to leading Christians in countries severely impacted by poverty gives one a whole new perspective on the issues. They challenge our American thinking, and they provide great encouragement as examples of the best in Christian leadership. They are the key to finding effective answers through genuine global partnership.

One thing I am assured of: We must work through the challenges undaunted by difficulties and failures. God has shown through the ages, as revealed in Scripture, that He has a great compassion and concern for the poor. If we are to follow Him, we are to seek His compassion and share His concern.

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