Leaders at the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly have commissioned Joel Edwards as the new international director of Micah Challenge.
Edwards, former head of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, was commissioned by fellow evangelical leaders on Sunday, the first full day of the WEA General Assembly currently being held in Pattaya, Thailand.
“I feel very privileged to accept this new role,” said Edwards, who was General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK for the last 11 years until his departure in September this year.
Micah Challenge is a Christian response – active in 40 countries - to the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 with the overall aim of halving extreme global poverty by the year 2015. Just past the halfway point, Christians are concerned that governments are not doing enough to ensure that those promises are met.
“The MDGS are a prophetic thing for governments to have agreed to,” said Edwards. “As Christians, we have a responsibility to deepen our commitment to the poor, to walk with the poor, to serve the poor. But we also have a responsibility to hold governments to account to the promises they have made.”
Edwards said that the scale of the challenge to rid the world of poverty was no reason for people to give in to cynicism.
“Jesus said the poor you will always have with you. The longevity of poverty is always going to confront us. But as Christians we have an amazing responsibility to bring not only optimism but hope into fairly difficult situations.
“There is no doubt about it. There is the capacity and ability to do something positive and definitive about the issue of human poverty.
“If the Christian community globally could begin to reach into its soul and respond to the challenge of the poor then we can actually do something which makes a difference.”
The alleviation of poverty, he added, would likely take decades.
“We don’t do it because we think overnight or even in the next 10 or 20 years we will take every single person from poverty. We are not naïve. But we know that through small steps we make massive differences to individuals. Stories abound and that’s not a myth that’s a reality.
“Therefore we know that if we double or treble our efforts as governments and citizens we will make a massive difference to many millions of lives. We don’t have time to be cynical because the urgency of the situation demands something far more productive than cynicism.”
Edwards will take up leadership of Micah Challenge in earnest in January 2009.