By Joel Edwards
It may be a radical solution, but it's the truth just the same. The financial fallout surrounding the G20 is an open invitation for a return to some simple wisdom. How is this for an example: "A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9 ) Or how about: "If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD, and he will repay you!" (Proverbs 19:17) These are timeless nuggets leaders of the world's richest nations should take seriously. Wise leaders would do well to follow these principles. And there are tangible, 'knock-on' benefits for nations in the West that help the poorest.
For example, just last week I was at a 'Bread for the World' conference in Washington. We discovered that 50 per cent of America's overseas trade is with emerging nations and one in five US jobs is tied to trade. For every 10 per cent increase in US exports there is an estimated 7 per cent decrease in unemployment at home. In pure economic terms it pays to be kind to strangers! Helping the poor works.
Years ago we heard the phrase 'axis of evil' to describe terrorist-sponsoring states across the world. Yet there is something equally as evil – extreme poverty. It would be inspirational and world changing if we had the same drive and commitment to defeat once and for all this particularly terminal evil.
As the G8 powerhouse is meshing into the G20, the world's most powerful nations continue to argue about who created the financial crisis and who can get them out of their own messes. But even whilst G20 nations concern themselves with legitimate domestic worries, there is something chronically obscene about 1 billion people suffering illnesses because they are eating too much, while 1 billion aren't eating enough – many of them live within the G20 nations.
Politicians made promises to sort this inequality out in 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals and Micah Challenge exists to make sure they don't forget them. Christian are convinced that biblical obedience carries blessing. The G20 discussions are a crucial reminder that God is concerned about the poor and links the promises of blessings with our commitments to the poor. There are over 2000 bible references to remind us that issues of poverty and justice are close to God's heart and relevant for political life today.
Joel Edwards (Twitter @nigpat @micah_2015) is the Director for Micah Challenge International www.micahchallenge.org, an initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance, and a regular broadcaster with the BBC. He is also a former commissioner with the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK.