Church speaks up for the bottom billion as G20 leaders prepare for crucial meeting

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Over 350 Christians packed a Cannes church, in southern France on Sunday to pray for leaders of the richest nations and to proclaim God’s economic values in the midst of European crisis. It was one of 250 events and services across the country organized by Micah Challenge.
The special event attended by French and international church leaders as well as the two local mayors, comes four days before the G20 meets in Cannes to discuss global financial priorities. Looming over the meeting, which will involve leaders from the 19 largest economies in the world, is the latest round of the global economic slowdown.
Speakers at the service reminded their audience that poverty is a challenge that cannot be forgotten by churches or political leaders. Jean Valery Vital-Herne, a pastor and poverty campaigner from Haiti spoke about the role churches are playing in rebuilding his country and the opportunity Christians have to call for integrity in leadership.
Micah Challenge France co-ordinator, Thierry Seewald thinks the prophetic role of Christians in being a voice for the poor and vulnerable is especially relevant at a time when politicians in rich nations are tempted to look to their own problems. ‘While we understand much of the focus for the G20 will be the state of the world economy, we do not want the world leaders to take their eye off the Millennium Development Goals,’ he said.
Micah Challenge is a global movement active in over 40 countries encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the goal to halve extreme poverty by 2015. It is urging leaders at the G20 to tackle world poverty by recommitting to work together to end the scourge of corruption, which keeps people poor across the world.
‘Corruption and poor governance and transparency are major barriers to overcoming poverty in the least developed countries, and if the world leaders start to address these issues, then we will be on the way to reaching the Millennium Development Goals to which the world is already committed ’, says Rev Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge.
Micah Challenge has called for G20 nations to undertake two initiatives which will go some way to tackling corruption.
Firstly, it wants the G20 to follow the lead of the USA in introducing a requirement for companies to publish what they pay to all governments where they operate.  Secondly, Micah Challenge is urging G20 leaders to improve the fight against tax havens that deprive nations of much needed tax income.
Churches in France signed postcards calling for action from their own government as an example to other G20 nations. They will be presented to a Government Minister later this month.
Micah Challenge France also organized a panel discussion on faith, poverty and justice last Sunday afternoon. A number of Christian media outlets attended Sunday’s events and reported on the call for fairer economic models that reflect God’s values.