Category: Hunger and Poverty

‘Such as these’ 6 – David Beckman

David Beckmann

This is really a hopeful time, and God is doing great things, said David Beckmann, during last month’s “… such as these” conference in Dallas.

The Baptist Standard did a story on this speech and one by Scott Todd of Compassion International. Here are some of my paraphrased  notes from Beckman’s speech:

Over the last three or four decades the world has made tremendous progress against poverty and disease. … I think this is God. … We should say thanks to God for what He has done in the lives of the poorest people in the world. … It’s like a great exodus in our own history. God is moving to liberate people from poverty and disease. God is calling us to get with the program and be part of this great exodus.

One reason a lot of Americans don’t get it is because we haven’t made much progress in the United States. The percentage under the poverty line is now higher than in 1974. … We made a difference when we tried. … A thousand points of light is not enough. … The most dramatic reacent period when we really reduced hunger was the 1960s and ’70s. … We had economic growth, which is the best way to reduce poverty. … Violence in the streets shook the government. … We had a government-led effort. … Now we have more food insecurity in the country than we did in 1974. … This has not been that important to us. … We haven’t had a president since Lyndon Johnson who made reducing poverty one of his top five priorities. … It’s just not that important to us.

Ninety-five percent of Americans say they believe in God. … Churches have a pretty good record.

Also, on advocacy we have a halfway decent record. … Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice. … Bread for the World has brought all Christians together. … We are a bipartisan Chrsitian anti-hunger organization. … We push for change, and we win. … In the 1970s and ’80s some of biggest successes were the child survival programs. … There are three or four thousand kids who will not die today because of those programs.

Things really took a turn for the better in 2000 with the Jubilee Campaign. … It triggered a massive increase in education in Africa. …

In the churches we have a lot of people who really care …

foreignassistance.gov

Why government? For pracical reasons and biblical reasons Christians need to be involved in the politics of hunger. … An effort to use best practices to reduce child malnutrition. … It’s not just the U.S. doing it, but the U.S. can get the world to move. …

Beckmann spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

‘Such as these’ 5 – Carol Adelman

Carol Adelman

The more religious a people are, the greater their philantrophy,” said Carol Adelman at last month’s “.. such as these” conference in Dallas. And with “religiosity going up and those correlations so strong,” the prospects of having a huge paradym shift are possible.

Adelman is the director of the Center for Global Prosperity at Hudson Institute. Here are a few other tidbits from her speech:

Private aid is now roughtly 80 percent and government 20 percent of the funds going to developing nations.

We see more money going to the causes of poverty than to the symptoms.

How the devloping world has changed:

— Increase in open markets and open societies

— Growth in private philanthropy, remittances, and local charities

 — Expanded knowledge and demand through technology

Adelman spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

‘Such as these’ 4 – Scott Todd

NOTES (These are paraphrases, not direct quotes from Scott’s address at the “… such as these” gathering in Dallas, May 24.)

“Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty”

By Scott Todd, Compassion International

It’s possible to end extreme hunger in our generation.

In college I saw a sign, “Change the Life of a Child.” I was skeptical, thought it was a scam. I’m arguing with a poster. Asked God, “Do you want me to do this?” When I said this, I felt compelled, pulled off reply card. … Received information on a kid in the Dominican Republic. That’s where I began in my journey.

Twenty percent of babies die … the US just 100 years ago. … We’ve come a long way, but sometimes we forget how fast that’s happened. Unfortunately that progress has not reached all o f us. … Tanzania…

21,000 children die everyday from preventable diseases. …

What are your expectations for the future of the poor?

“the poor will always be with you…”  Jesus was not speaking to us, He was speaking to Judas (because of what he said in the rest of the verse. Judas was bursting into an act of worship. The fatalistic expectations we have are connected to our interpretation of that verse.

Others believe we can end extreme poverty, but pastors have doubts. … These are the guys who believe all things are possible. … It’s clear what God is capable of…. we are in a battle with our own low expectations … of the church and of ourselves.

Isaiah 58: …God wants our generation to hear again the voice of the prophet. … God says I’ve seen the show, I’m not impressed. … The prophet of God is warning the people of God they are in the presence of an unlistening God. … You cannot fast as you do today. … The true prophet never stops at a criticism, … he always turns and articulates a vision of the future. … next section of Isaiah … is this not the fast I have chosen…. a lot of verbs …. a faith expressed in love for others. … verse 10… KJV “if you pour out your soul for the hungry”. … then you will be restorers and repairers. …

incredible promises flow out of Isaiah 58. … you will be called… this will be your reputation… this is how people will see you… repairers of broken walls…

It’s time for us to remember who we are … time to join with people like Martin Luther King Jr., people willing to be co-workers with God…

52% in 1981 lived in extreme poverty, today 26%… we have cut it in half in one generation…

We have the opportunity to do something unprecedented in history. … We have the opportunity to push extreme economic poverty into the history books. … Right now poverty makes us sad… It will someday make us indignant. …

Our low expectations are not God’s … I’m looking for other fools for God. …

What will it take? … leadership… multiple segments of society… includes government…

It will take $73 billion over 10 years to end extreme unhunger…. Christians make $1.5 trillion every year in income. … God has entrusted us with all of this wealth….

I’m looking for leaders who can reflect on this and rally the troops in your sphere of influence. …

truefast@live58.org

notalways.live58.org

Some of the plastic junk we buy is breaking the back of poverty overseas. …

You do not have to always be too late.

Todd spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

‘Such as these’ 3 – Abraham Sarker

NOTES (are not direct quotes but are paraphrases)

“Innovative, Sustainable Solutions for Childhood Hunger in Bangladesh”

By Abraham Sarker

I have never experienced hunger in life the way, but I have seen people around me who are hungry.

In Bangladesh… 60 million people in Bangladesh do nat have sufficient food.

Nearly 8 million children under 5 years old are underweight (37%)

Threats to food security in Bangladesh:

1) Poverty – chronic deprivation of the socially vulnerable

2) Natural disasters – thphoons and floods every year

3) Poor health and hygiene

Village Community Transformation using our NGO model … micro-loans, church planting, discipleship training, humanitarian aid, healthcare, and schools…

Gospel for Muslims’ NGO serves 8,000 families in May 2011. … in 52 villages

Micro-loans… average loan size $50-$75…

Pillars of HARD Micro-Finance

1) Standardized loan product

2) Basic voluntary deposit services

3) Standard Operating Procedures that are simple, firm, and effective.

4) Zero tolerance on late payments

Cost efficiency achieved throug

1) Organizational architecture

2) Standardized operating system… maximum delegation with limited discretion… detailed operating manual… franchise-type approach to branch expansion….

3) Institutional culture… servant leadership through attitude and action… accountqability and integrity among ourselves and our partners…

www.gospelformuslims.com

Sarker spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

‘Such as these’ 1 – Gary Cook

NOTES

Conference introduction: Children, Christ, Country

11 million children will die this year of hunger

129 million underweight children

16% of babies born weigh under 3.3 pounds

We are interested in these beloved children of God..,, Each child has a name, a story, and worth before God.

Different responses:

— Emergency therapeutic feeding… make sure they get the nutrition they need. …

— General and supplemental food aid … critically important work of our government. …

— Child support programs … orphanages or sponsorship programs. ..

— School feeding programs … for many children the most basic nutritution is received in this means….

— Sustainable agriculture and markets … helping people who can provide for themselves … accessible markets …

— Development and job creation

When you put these together you have a whole circle of programs. … broad and diverse.

There are numbers of ways we engage in these — local church, church missions, community, Christian agencies, country governments, USAID, World Food Program, Non Governmental Organizations. … Many of the Christian efforts are dependent on the foreign assistance program of the U.S. government. …

The effectivess; the efficiency; and the level of funding of these programs matters greatly.

Gary Cook is with Bread for the World.

Cook spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

Response to global childhood hunger

Evangelical leaders from across the country are gathering at Dallas Baptist University beginning today for a conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. I plan to blog from the event as soon as I can get there from another meeting.

This is a follow-up meeting to one held last year at Wheaton College. That gathering produced a written document, “Government, Global Poverty and God’s Mission in the World: An Evangelical Declaration.” (There is some great biblical analysis in the declaration that can be helpful in dealing with these issues. Special thanks goes to David Gushee, who pulled together the Wheaton participants’ thoughts and adding depth to the declaration.)

This year’s event is being sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.

Kudos to these organizations for caring enough about global childhood hunger to put this together. Of course, I work for Texas Baptists so I’m a bit prejudiced.

Keller: The Bible and poverty

Poverty “is seen in the Bible as a very complex phenomenon. Several factors are usually intertwined. Poverty cannot be eliminated simply by personal initiative or by merely changing the tax structure.” (p.34)

Timothy Keller, in his book Generous Justice, stakes out a biblical position on poverty and wealth that transcends polarizing views of the issues. In short, it takes no one off the hook, either the rich or the poor.

The second chapter of his book is titled “Justice and the Old Testament,” but it doesn’t just stay in the older portion of Scripture. It simply starts there. Here are some excerpts:

“The Bible is not a classist tract that sees the rich as always the villains and the poor as always virtuous.” (p.27)

“The gleaning laws enabled the poor to be self-sufficient, not through getting a handout, but through their own work in the field.

“How can business owners follow the same principle? … [T]hey should be willing to pay higher wages and charge lower prices that in effect share the corporate profits with employees and customers, with the community around them. … How could a government follow the gleaning principle? It would do so by always favoring programs that encourage work and self-sufficiency rather than dependency.” (p.30)

Regarding the story of manna during the exodus (Exodus 16:16-18):

“Any manna that was hoarded simply spoiled. … In 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Paul interprets this as an abiding principle for how we are to deal with God’s material provision for us. He likens our money to manna. … [T]he money you earn is a gift of God. Therefore, the money you make must be shared to build up community. … To extend the metaphor — money that is hoarded for oneself rots the soul.” (pp.30-31)

“… [W]hen we come to the Old Testament social legislation, the application must be done with care and it will always be subject to debate. … Thoughtful people have and will argue about which is the most effective way to help the poor. Both sides looking for support in the Bible can find some, and yet in the end what the Bible says about social justice cannot be tied to any one political system or economic policy.” (pp.31-32)

“The three causes of poverty, according to the Bible, are oppression, calamity, and personal moral failure. … I have concluded that the emphasis is usually on the larger structural factors.” (p.38)

“It is not our lavish good deeds that procure salvation, but God’s lavish love and mercy. That is why the poor are as acceptable before God as the rich. It is the generosity of God, the freeness of his salvation, that lays the foundation for the society of justice for all.” (p.40)

(This is my third post on Keller’s book.  The first is here and the second here. I offer these posts in hopes to whet your appetite and to encourage you to read the entire book.)

Bike Out Hunger approaches

Key the threatening music from the movie “Jaws.” While the swimmer enjoys her frolic in the surf, a dark menace looms up beneath. For me, it’s Bike Out Hunger that approaches.

I feel like the boy in my favorite movie, “What About Bob?”, when he shares his fears with Bob Wiley. He says something like, “I’m going to die. We’re all going to die.” But the movie is a comedy, and Bill Murray’s “Bob” character has a readily effective response that I can’t use to disperse my fear–talking dirty.

Bike Out Hunger is a 400-mile bicycle ride that begins the Monday after Mother’s Day and goes throughout the week–Beaumont to Woodville to Nacogdoches to Tyler to Marshall to Texarkana. It raises money for the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger, a very, very good cause.

Last year, on a different route, I did only 100 miles. This year, I’m shooting for 200 miles and will ride the rest of the way in a “sag wagon,” because I will indeed be sagging.

It would be a real encouragement for me to have people sponsoring me with their dollars for hunger relief and development. You can go to https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=973f2b and select “Ferrell Foster” from the drop-down menu.

Who knows, if I get a bunch of sponsors I might even push for 300 miles.

Note to my lawyer: I really do need to update my will. Trese gets everything, but make sure she takes care of the kids.

Scripture, government and the poor

There is no remaining Garden of Eden in which the U.S. can remain isolated from the rest of the world. –David Gushee

At this week’s consultation in Wheaton, Gushee spoke on “Scripture, Government and the World’s Poor.” His comment about the Garden of Eden resonated. Often, especially in the West, we just want to enjoy our Garden and ignore what’s happening on the outside, in the tougher places. We can’t.

Whether it be global economic activity or global terrorism, we know better today than a few years ago that isolationism will not work. The world’s various systems of economics, government, religion and other systems have linked us with the world outside of our Garden.

So the question is not whether to help the poor but how Christians should advocate, Gushee said. (I’m using italic for Gushee’s remarks because I’m not sure if they are direct quotes.) This was really an underlying premise to the consultation. How should we advocate?

The consultation focused on the role of U.S. foreign assistance for other nations, but toward the end it became clear that foreign assistance is only a piece of the broader issues facing responses the world poverty.

Gushee’s key contribution to the discussion was driving us to biblical passages that explicitly deal with the relation of government to poverty in a context of what God is trying to do.

Psalm 72 is a prayer of support for the king as a channel of God’s justice, Gushee said. Psalm 72:1-4:

“Endow the king with your justice, O God,

the royal son with your righteousness.

“He will judge your people in righteousness,

your afflicted ones with justice.

“The mountains will bring prosperity to the people,

the hills the fruit of righteousness.

“He will defend the afflicted among the people

and save the children of the needy;

he will crush the oppressor. ”

There are obvious differences between the king of Israel and leaders of other states today, but Scripture expresses an affirmation that we all can pray with purpose. We should pray that God will endow governmental leaders with desire to pursue justice, knowing that justice will bring prosperity to the hurting around the world.

And we surely should pray that the fourth verse would be realized, that our leaders would defend the afflicted and save the children of the needy.

National prosperity and royal success are connected to the king’s care for the poor, Gushee said.

Many, if not most, people in America have not made that connection.

Another key passage is Jeremiah 21-22. Jeremiah has a word from God for Zedekiah, king of Judah.

“… say to the royal house of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the LORD; O house of David, this is what the LORD says:

” ‘Administer justice every morning;

rescue from the hand of his oppressor

the one who has been robbed,

or my wrath will break out and burn like fire

because of the evil you have done—

burn with no one to quench it.”

–Jeremiah 21:11-12

Gushee summarized the application of these passages to our own context as follows: When we fail to protect the poor … we invite the judgment of God.

He noted that the United States is a “quasi-Empire,” and the Old Testament treats empires as evil, except for one, the Persian empire under Cyrus. While Cyrus was indeed a world conqueror, our leaders should be more like Cyrus and less like Nebuchadnezzar.

Then Gushee dealt with the familiar passage in Romans 13, and in this he made an important distinction between the Roman setting and our’s today. I did not follow his explanation clearly but let me jump to the conclusion. Monarchs have subjects, not citizens, Gushee said. We, in the liberal democracy that is the U.S., are citizens; we the people are, in essence, the responsible party.

If American Christians advocated for care for the world’s poor, this empire would be exceptional in history, Gushee said. We do not need to have a pre-democratic theology of the state.

Our current economic priorities are profit, efficiency and growth. But those can be be challenged. … Christians need to urge leaders to specific poverty-reducing activities.

Gushee’s quick overview (and summarized even more briefly here) provide some helpful ways forward for those of us followers of Christ who value God’s work in history as recorded in Scripture. This is a framework which, in essence, demands our advocacy for the poor since we have the privilege of living in a constitutional democracy, and our responsibility reaches beyond our national borders and to the extent of all God’s concern–everyone everywhere.