An overwhelming majority of American Christians are concerned about world poverty and readily take action, a study commissioned by Compassion International found.
According to the study, which was conducted in Sept. 2011, a whopping 93 percent of American church-attending Christians – that is some 25 million – say they are concerned about global poverty, with a third citing that they are "extremely concerned." Some twenty percent of practicing Protestants and 16 percent of practicing Catholics analyzed have also traveled outside the United States in order to actively engage in fighting poverty. Christians under 40 years of age are more than twice as likely to have taken such a trip.
Four out of five American Christians believe they have a special responsibility to help solve global poverty, the study found.
Interestingly, younger Christians give on average 50 percent more than older believers toward the cause of global poverty, the study also discovered. Forty-five percent of younger Christians believe their churches should be more involved in helping the poor and 37 percent said they would donate more if their church increased its involvement.
But the same people are apparently not aware of the difference they are causing. Some 93 percent of the sampled individuals think that the rate of extreme poverty is the same or worse than it was in 1990. In fact, the extreme poverty rate has been cut in half, from 52 to 26 percent, in the last 30 years, according to the researchers.
When the participants were told of the progress against poverty and asked if, knowing that ending extreme poverty was possible, they would change their engagement in fighting it, 46 percent replied they would "do significantly more."
"What would happen if these millions of Christians began to live out the fundamental teachings of their faith in a new way?" Dr. Scott C. Todd of Compassion International asked in a press release. "What if they began to take seriously the Biblical teachings about the poor and oppressed? What if they formed a new relationship with the global poor. I believe these changes are underway on a massive scale. We are witnessing an awakening."
Compassion International is a Christian advocacy group specializing in helping children around the world out of poverty.
Todd is also the filmmaker behind “58: The Film," a new movie based on a Christian initiative by the same name which aims to end extreme poverty. The movement was inspired by God's call in Isaiah 58 to "loose the chains of injustice" and provide for the poor.
The movie gathers stories of impoverished people from around the world and of those who went out to help them. The film also features stories of people surrounded by gang violence and chemical addictions, and victims of sex trafficking.
"[In Isiah 58] God desires that his people carry out a True Fast, one that cares for the poor and oppressed," a statement on the 58 website reads. "We believe God is calling us today to the same thing in an effort to end extreme poverty. And here's the good news: not only is it possible, it’s already starting to happen."