How to Increase Your Church’s Impact on Global Poverty

You desire to develop disciples who are passionately engaged with the God-given mission to care for those living in extreme poverty. Yet, it can be difficult to know where to begin. These highlights from Barna’s latest study, The Good News About Global Poverty will provide you with some simple ideas to put into action today.

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What People Don’t Know About Global Poverty (Yet)

A recent poll by Barna reveals that 70 percent of U.S. adults hold a perception of the state of global poverty that is simply not true.

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What is the Definition of Poverty?

The absence of a clear definition is a serious problem for organizations whose missions are to eradicate poverty or, in our case, to release children from poverty.

Tell us how you understand and define poverty, and then in future blog posts we’ll explain the basis of our holistic approach to ministry and what our definition and understanding of the problem is.

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Will Eliminating Extreme Poverty Require a Miracle?

How big is the problem of extreme poverty? Three billion people worldwide and 1 billion children deep. But despite the size of those numbers, many people at Compassion believe that we can eliminate extreme poverty in our generation, that we can remove or utterly destroy it.

You might think we’re “drunk on the spirit,” that our goal is unrealistic, completely irrational or even not Biblical, and I will be honest with you, I thought it was out of I thought of it as an impossible task, too.

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Fewer Children Are Dying

Good news from the government is pretty rare. Good news in the media is even more rare. So when I read this headline the other day, I smiled: “WHO sees good progress on UN health goals for poor.”

According to a recent study by the U.N.’s World Health Organization, good progress is being made on health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  • Fewer children are dying.
  • The estimated percentage of underweight children under 5 has dropped.
  • New HIV infections have declined.
  • Existing cases of tuberculosis are declining.
  • The world is on track to achieve the MDG target on access to safe drinking water.

Let’s just pause for a moment to let this sink in. We are making progress. Let’s celebrate this!

Of course, this doesn’t mean we can slow down in our fight against global poverty. If anything, seeing progress should motivate us to work even harder. And, as has been mentioned around here before, eliminating extreme poverty is just a matter of priorities.

The annual income of Christian American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. The amount of money needed to end global poverty is about $74 billion a year. … Basically, 1 percent of our annual income a year is what is needed to end extreme poverty.

So the question is, what are your priorities?

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The Ability to Eliminate Extreme Poverty Is Just a Matter of Priorities

The Church’s ability to eliminate extreme poverty is just a matter choosing to do so. We used to say that 40,000 children under age 5 die every day of hunger or preventable diseases. Today, that number is 24,000. These statistics show that in 20 years the number of children who die every day of hunger or preventable diseases has been cut in half. Yet, the birth rate is actually going up. The population is increasing.

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The Ability to Eliminate Poverty: Is It Just a Matter of Interpretation?

Is our ability to eliminate poverty just a matter of how we interpret the Bible? John 12:7-8 is the verse that has captured our thoughts as we think about the poor. The verse that is now the most remembered about the poor.
And yet, when Jesus spoke, he was not talking to us. His use of “you” was not intended to be directed at us. This reference, this statement, was very specifically directed at Judas.

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Eliminate Poverty: Can We Do It or Not?

On the subject of eliminating poverty, how do we reconcile the seemingly conflicting messages of John 12:8 and Deuteronomy 15:4?

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How Can I Fight Poverty?

How can I help fight poverty? What in the world can I do? The problems are just so big, and I’m just so small. I want to be used by you, God, but I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve thought and prayed these things many times. When viewing this world with its huge statistics of dread that loom over us (one BILLION people living in poverty), have you ever just felt stuck? Paralyzed? Anaesthetized? Confused? Helpless? Hopeless?

I’ve felt all those things. Usually when I’m looking at two things:

  • The enormous earth, jam-packed with dreadful statistics, and
  • Me

They both seem like depressing prospects.

Thank God this is not about me or you. Thank God for His grace. When the Lord called out looking for someone to be his messenger, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV), He didn’t say “Whom shall I send who has a doctorate degree? Who will go for us who’s a super-swell, smart, sophisticated, experienced guy?”

No, God doesn’t put the same prerequisites on his servants that we put on ourselves. He seems quite eager to use each one of us as his servants, just the way he made us.

fight-poverty-hope-livesI recently wrote a book about responding to poverty, Hope Lives, and between you and me, this is a bit crazy. Don’t tell anyone (especially my marketers), but I’m just a goofball from Colorado who loves donuts and reality television. But I’m a goofball who (quite audaciously) called out to God, “Here am I, send me!”

And you know what? God (quite audaciously, in my opinion), said “OK.” I’m tempted to think He might need a stricter HR department, but those are just the lies of the enemy. God wants to use each one of us (I mean you) to reach out and help His hurting world, no matter how insufficient we think we are.

We might not all be missionaries or nurses or have doctorate degrees in poverty, but God did plant a little seed, a little talent, in each of us that He wants to use and grow. There’s a guy who works here at Compassion whom God gave the talent of rapping. Yes, rapping. And he’s using it to speak out against poverty. There’s a woman who loves to write letters, and she’s using this gift to write letters of encouragement and hope to dozens of children in poverty.

Maybe you can’t write or rap, but what can you do to serve others? Bake? Fix cars? Persuade? Sew? Tap Dance?

No matter how small (or random) our talent seems, God can use it. He can multiply our offering that seems so measly and make it into something incredible, just like the little boy with the two bitty fish that God used to feed 5,000 (John 6). God gave me the gift of writing.

The small step of faith I took in this has now been multiplied by God, through Hope Lives church kits which guide churches through a five-week journey of exploring how God wants us to respond to poverty. Now how crazy is that?

I believe God is waiting for each one of us to look past the looming, seemingly impossible statistics, forget ourselves and our own insufficiencies, and simply say: “Here I am God, send me.” And I bet we’ll be flat-out flabbergasted by what he does.

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