Sometimes there is good news… International Poverty Updates

PEPFAR just passed the Senate this week, which means that $48 billion in assistance has been allocated over the next five years to the poorest of the poor around the world. This is good news! The bill got stuck in the Senate this summer after having passed the House of Representatives and receiving strong support from President Bush. Through lots of Senators’ tireless efforts (including support from both Obama and McCain), as well a lot of on the ground action, phone calls, letters, etc. from everyday people like you and me, this money has been freed up. It’s exciting that now this money will be able to:

– provide care for 12 million AIDS patients, including five million orphans

– provide increases in funds to fight TB and malaria, two diseases that are at their most devastating in the world’s poorest countries

– provide training for 140,000 new healthcare professionals in places most desperate for doctors and nurses.

If you want to see if your Senator helped pass this bill and spend 2 minutes sending him/her a thank you email, check here. (Thanking them helps show Senators that voters do care about issues like funding for PEPFAR.) More info on PEPFAR and the history of getting it passed can be found on the ONE Campaign site.  

Also, the ONE Campaign now has a parallel effort called “ONE Vote ’08”  (OV08). The goal of OV08 is to keep the international issues related to the Millemium Development Goals (poverty, AIDS/malaria, clean water, education, housing, maternal health, etc.) a priority to both of the presidential candidates and to show candidates that American voters to care about these issues and will vote accordingly. Visit their site to learn how OV08 is equipping people to take on the ground action in order to make fighting extreme poverty and AIDS talked about issue in the upcoming election. The video on the main OV08 page is pretty interesting, fyi.

Finances: What is Enough?

blog of a friend that I recently found and have been reading regularly posted this response from seven evangelical church leaders on the question of materialism. Several of the responses stuck out to me as sentiments calling me back to myself – if that makes sense. Calling me to convictions that I know are biblical, true, just and rooted in how the kingdom is ordered – convictions that I haven’t thought about enough lately.

Just today, I was lamenting my current lack of employment and feelings of financial stress that accompany that as I walk through a new season of juggling parenthood, PhD studies, project work, pastoral passions, a calling to communities – a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t always make money or make sense, in other words. And while some of my feelings and anxiety surrounding not knowing what my employment and financial future will look like are entirely valid, reading the below blog replies stopped me in my tracks as this thought hit me: I am fundamentally giving in to selfish and controlling feelings in this area of life when I get so worried about what the future will hold and so tied to worrying about financial specifics. I don’t really yet know what it means to ‘give my finances to God’ as the evangelical saying goes, but I am pretty sure my worrying and distrust that God is doing something bigger and better than I can see isn’t the answer. How do I forget this basic truth?  

The following quotes reminded me that, 1) I need to continue to be around people (neighbors) who are truly struggling financially to keep my own well-fed financial reality in perspective, and I need to also be around financially gifted people whose lifestyles are generous and faithful, so that I don’t get too persuaded by the ‘norm’ of middle-upper class America that right now seems somewhat alluring to me; and 2) Mammon sneaks up on me, in the middle of studying thelogy and pastoring and writing convictions on ethics, I need to be aware of my everyday and surpremely personal practices and whether or not they are helping me let go of financial control and trust God – or on the other hand, engendering want and lust and bad habits that keep me to tied to money. It’s tricky – this whole area, and I just needed this reminder today. I think that I need to revisit the question of what is enough – surely I already have more than enough, just not more than I currently desire. Tricky.

Enjoy these solid quotes:          

Shane Claiborne’s response: “What is enough is defined by our relationship to our neighbor—if our neighbor has four cars, then we think we are living simply if we have two cars. If our neighbor doesn’t have water, then two cars is probably too many. We have this command to love our neighbor as ourselves, but I think the great tragedy of our culture is that we are pushed away from suffering, away from poverty to the point that it’s enough if we give a tax-exempt donation or volunteer for a week out of the year. And yet if we’re really in relationship with people who are suffering, that messes with us.”

Theologian and scholar N.T. Wright writes: “Most of us in the Western world need to have our noses rubbed in that [question] more than we regularly do, and not use the kind of convenient get-out clause—’Well, that’s something Jesus says to some people but not everybody.’ When people say that, it tends to mean “but please, not me.” That’s dangerous. One of the first steps we have to take is to recognize that the vast majority of the Christian world for the last 2,000 years—and still today—lives in much more poverty and a much simpler lifestyle than we in the modern West can easily imagine. …. Money becomes a god very, very easily. So giving it away cheerfully and wisely is a step toward really saying money is not the ruling force in our lives. Money is not the thing that makes you a genuine human being. Saying that is so counterintuitive in Western culture.”

Language from Micah Challenge

one-micah-quote.jpgThis statement is from Micah Challenge (linked at the right), a fabulous global organization that is fighting poverty and other related issues through a sustainable, smart, and ecumenical faith movement. While I like what Micah Challenge does, I really value this statement for it’s wide-reaching affirmations that I think apply to many of us seeking to live a holistic, biblical, embodied, and communal Christian faith. It is worded in a comprehensive and poetic way that is really meaningful to me. So, I thought I’d share; enjoy.