Global Churches Mourn for the Poor, Call for Action

Two of the largest global Christian bodies responded to the recent United Nations World Summit with an urgent call for the government to live up to their commitments and for churches to rise up under the banner of justice and poverty eradication.

"We mourn for the 800 million people worldwide who are malnourished and over 1 billion people living on less than $1 a day and fight daily for their survival," said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, representing 380 million Christians in 123 nations, in a statement released Monday.

Top evangelical leaders returned from an interfaith prayer service, held in conjunction with the summit last week in New York, where they joined in a fight against world hunger.

Addressing the outcome of the U.N. summit, Michael Smitheram, international coordinator of the Micah Challenge – the Global Poverty advocacy arm of the WEA – said, "The United Nations World Summit has produced one change that could be meaningful, and that's in the language of the presidency."

President Bush had addressed over 170 world leaders at the summit, pledging a commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which includes halving poverty and hunger by 2015.

"What we want to see now is the U.S. actually implementing those goals," said Smitheram.

General Secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which represents some 400 million Christians in more than 120 countries, pointed out the failure of response on the part of member states in taking responsibility for the world's poor.

"The states which have shown their inability to respond to the urgent issues of the day must bear the burden of responsibility for this situation, and for the failure to respond to the needs of the world's poorest and, in a world growing in interdependence, also to their own security concerns," said Kobia, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Just as Smitheram had stressed, Kobia called for a time of action and not just words.

"A new global impetus for justice is now required from governments and civil society, to live up to their responsibilities, and to work together for a better and safer place for all," stated Kobia.

However, as Tunnicliffe noted, “it is not just up to governments to respond.”

“The church must rise up to her full potential and obey the biblical imperative of caring for the poor," the WEA head stated.

The urgent need to address the poverty that has been killing 30,000 children everyday has brought church leaders from across the globe together to push for the fulfillment of the MDGs.

"Our vision as churches is that of a world in which the God-given life of each human person is protected, in which all peoples can live in peace with justice, a world in which poverty is no longer tolerated," said Kobia.