“The United Nations World Summit has produced one change that could be meaningful, and that’s in the language of the U.S. presidency,” said Michael Smitheram, International Coordinator of the Micah Challenge – the Global Poverty advocacy arm of the WEA. During his address to the United Nations on Wednesday, President Bush for the first time said he would be committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is an ambitious agenda that includes cutting poverty and hunger in half, ensuring that every boy and girl in the world has access to primary education, and halting the spread of AIDS -- all by 2015. “What we want to see now is the U.S. actually implementing those goals,” said Smitheram who challenged the Bush administration to quickly back these words with action.
Earlier that day, WEA leaders took part in a memorial service to raise awareness about poverty and its devastating effects on humanity. The service was part of a three-day campaign against global poverty that was organized in part by the Micah Challenge. From Sept. 14-16, international and American religious leaders called on the U.N. – and specifically the U.S. – to meet the Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty by 2015.
“We mourn for the 800 million people worldwide who are malnourished and over 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day and fight daily for their survival,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the WEA. He went on to say “We must demand that all governments keep their promises in responding to the impoverished of the world.” He adds, “However, it is not just up to governments to respond. The church must rise up to her full potential and obey the biblical imperative of caring for the poor.”
According to Richard Cizik, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, one of the most important parts of the rally was the participation of evangelicals at the table.
“We know that 30,000 children die everyday from global hunger,” said Cizik. “Can an evangelical – or any other religious person – close his eyes to that tragedy?
“The answer is no,” he said. “Evangelical Christians will not close their hearts and minds to this incredibly tragic truth. We are here to bear witness to the evangelical Christians’ commitments to the MDGs to end poverty in our lifetime.”
Ndaba Mazabane, Chair of the International Council for the World Evangelical Alliance, who spoke at the rally on Thursday, also said the world is facing a “kairos moment” that can mark a watershed moment for the global community. “If we grab this moment together, we can make a difference,” said Mazabane, who added that this watershed moment can be explained by playing on the word, G-R-A-B. Mazabane said this is the moment for the church to be Gracious, Relevant, Available, and Biblical. “The Bible is our road map. The only way to provide the needed answer,” he explained. “A Biblical mandate tells Christians to first love the Lord and secondly your neighbor. Our call is to grab this moment together!”
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