Seriously? Global Poverty Cut in Half?
About eight weeks ago the World Bank said preliminary estimates for 2010 showed that the world’s extreme poverty rate — people living below $1.25 a day — had fallen to less than half of its 1990 value. Did you get that? Less than half!
Some Christian organizations are joining together to make sure that trend continues, and even to accelerate it. They base their project called "58:" on the verses in Isaiah 58 where we read about what God prefers to the empty-hearted fast:
This is the kind of fast I want.
I want you to remove the sinful chains,
to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke,
to set free the oppressed,
and to break every burdensome yoke.
I want you to share your food with the hungry
and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people.
When you see someone naked, clothe him!
Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood! (Isa. 58:6–7).
This vision laid out in Isaiah 58 serves as the foundation of the 58: project. Its vision: In 2035, extreme global poverty will be defeated and the role of Christians in that endeavor will bring glory to God. The mission: Inspire and equip the church to end extreme poverty by living the true fast of Isaiah 58.
Ten organizations have partnered in an alliance they call the 58: Council. Those forming the alliance are listed along with what they bring to the table.
1. Christian Reformed World Relief Committee: Community development
2. Compassion International: Child development and leadership development
3. Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization: Sustainable agriculture
4. Food for the Hungry: Food security
5. HOPE International: Microenterprise development
6. International Justice Mission: Justice and human rights
7. Living Water International: Safe water access
8. Micah Challenge: Government aid and policy
9. Plant with Purpose: Environmental stewardship
10. World Relief: Disaster relief
“58: The Film” lasts about an hour and it lays out how we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime. The 58: Alliance encourages home groups and churches to arrange showings. (The film is available for purchase for $3.99.) Yes, the poor we will always have with us. But we can do much to raise them above $1.25/day.
Here's a trailer for the film: