Christian organizations around the world are set to join thousands of people this coming spring for a poverty awareness and fundraising initiative that hopes to impact the lives of more than a billion people globally.
The Live Below the Line campaign first began in Australia and has morphed into a global effort allowing people to join together in solidarity for the 1.4 billion people – close to a quarter of the world's population – who live below the World Bank's definition of the extreme poverty line.
The campaign calls on participants to live off of $1.50 – the equivalent of extreme poverty – for five consecutive days to gain some semblance of the emotional, physical, and psychological challenges that destitute poverty presents to people around the world.
"Live below the line is a campaign changing the way people think about poverty – and making a huge difference – by challenging everyday people to live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for 5 days," the campaign website reads.
Live Below the Line encourages action, dialog, and fundraising among participants. Last year, the campaign raised nearly 200,000 British Pounds in the U.K. alone ($316,640).
"While the physical hunger was tough, the psychological aspect of living below the line was the greatest challenge… After only five days, I can quite honestly say that I can relate much more to the profound sense of disempowerment that accompanies the physical deprivation of extreme poverty," participant Chris Brekke wrote of his experience in a Salvation Army blog post last year.
"It's quite a challenging and difficult thing to do," Joe Ware of Christian Aid told The Christian Post.
"We raised thousands of pounds last year by participants and that money gets plowed into poverty relief projects in areas where people can barely feed themselves. Thus, the campaign is also a way of directly tackling the problem of poverty," Ware added.
Christian Aid is a partner to the campaign in the U.K. along with several other agencies, including Malaria No More and The Salvation Army. John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, told the organization that Christian's have a moral responsibility to tackle poverty and injustice.
"We should be reminding people that in our worldwide family many people are suffering in a way that from a God's eye view must be absolutely outrageous," he said.
"This is exactly the kind of issue the church should be highlighting with our global reach. The idea of Live Below the Line is such a simple one yet is symbolically powerful and therefore a really good one for Christians to get involved with," Bishop Pritchard added.
The website for the initiative will be launched in the United States on March 1st. Those interested in participating can register here.