Christians can eliminate widespread hunger, advocates insist
By Marv Knox and Ken Camp on May 26, 2011
© Associated Baptist Press
Christians must cast off fatalistic expectations that presume the inevitability of widespread poverty and hunger in a sinful and fallen world, urged one speaker at a national conference May 24-25 at Dallas Baptist University. Instead, they should embrace a prophetic vision that points to an alternative vision for the future.
“I believe it is possible to bring an end to extreme global poverty in our generation, and it is possible for the church to make that happen,” Scott Todd, senior ministry adviser for Colorado Springs-based Compassion International, said at the event called “An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger.” Conference sponsors included Bread for the World, the National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge and the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.
Todd said that within the last generation, the number of children who died of preventable causes before their fifth birthday was cut in half. The number of children who die from measles declined 78 percent in just eight years, and 22 countries cut their malaria rate in half in only six years. The same kind of progress occurred in global poverty reduction.
“In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today, that number is 26 percent,” Todd reported. “We have the opportunity to do something unprecedented in human history -- to push extreme poverty into the history books.”
David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, likewise pointed to the progress Christians have made in poverty reduction by becoming advocates for the vulnerable.
“This is a hopeful time,” he said, pointing to the specific example of a village in Bangladesh where he witnessed transformation within a couple of decades.
“It’s the same story in hundreds of thousands of communities around the world. We are making tremendous progress against poverty and disease. And I think this is God at work,” said Beckmann, an economist, ordained Lutheran minister and anti-hunger lobbyist based in Washington, D.C.
“There is a great exodus in our day." Beckmann said. "God is moving to liberate people from poverty, hunger and disease. And God is calling us to get with the program.”