Christians Sound Half-Time Alarm Ahead of G-8 Summit

Christian leaders gathered in northern Germany reminded Group of Eight leaders on Saturday of their unfulfilled promise to tackle poverty by 2015.

In Rostock, Germany, Christian leaders involved in the global Micah Challenge campaign called for greater Christian participation and government actions to end global ahead of this week's G-8 summit.. Rostock is just southeast of Heiligendamm, where the G-8 summit will be held for three days starting on June 6. The Christian leaders were in the town for a Christian youth training camp hosted by Micah Challenge.

"At halftime, there are positives in our first half performance, like Ghana, that will halve poverty by 2015," said the Rev. Joel Edwards, chair of the Micah Challenge and the general director of the Evangelical Alliance in the United Kingdom, according to the World Evangelical Alliance. "But globally and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, we can and must win from behind in the second half."

Edwards, along with the Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the World Evangelical Alliance, and Michael Smitheram, international coordinator of Micah Challenge International, called for more aggressive strategies to halve poverty by 2015.

"The MDGs are not behind at halftime because of lack of knowledge, or technology, or money," said Tunncliffe, whose organization represents 3 million churches worldwide. "It's all about political will!"

Micah Challenge is a global Christian campaign initiated by the World Evangelical Alliance and the Micah Network – a group of more than 300 Christian relief and development organizations – with the two-fold goal of mobilizing Christians against poverty and pressing world leaders to fulfill their promise to achieve the MDGs.

Made by the 192 United Nations member states at a world summit in 2000, the MDGs are eight goals ranging from halving poverty to halting HIV/AIDS by the year 2015.

"The MDGs are a compact between rich and poor that echoes the words of the prophets and the teachings of Jesus," noted Edwards. "Churches worldwide are making the MDGs core business and the voices of Christians will be loud and constant in the ears of leaders that this compact must not be broken."

G-8 countries combined represent about 65 percent of the world economy and thus have considerable influence on the success of the MDGs. The G-8 countries are Germany, Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Russia, Canada and the United States.

"Millions of people around the world are looking to the G-8 nations to meet the promises they made to halve extreme poverty by 2015," explained Edwards, according to the U.K.-based newspaper Christian Today. "These people are real, their poverty is real and people are literally dying every day.

Meanwhile, other Christian groups, such as U.K.-based Christian Aid and Tearfund, are concentrating advocacy efforts to press G-8 leaders on stronger commitments to the global warming problems.

"We want the G-8 leaders to do everything they can to change that reality when they meet in Heiligendamm and, looking beyond that, follow up the agreements they reach with real and robust action," Edwards said.

On Monday, U.S. President Bush departed for Europe for an eight-day trip to the G-8 summit of industrialized nations and visits to half a dozen countries. Last week, Bush announced his commitment for stronger action against climate change, imposed U.S. sanctions on Sudan, and requested $30 billion for his program to fight AIDS in poor African countries. These agendas among others are expected to be discussed at the G-8 summit.