Photo Credit: The Christian Post/Tyler O'Neil
An international Christian relief organization was helped in its efforts to distribute food in the typhoon devastated areas of the Philippines after television personality Stephen Colbert challenged his loyal viewers to raise more money than the nation of China pledged.
Last Friday, Colbert expressed his disgust that "the nation of China pledged only $100,000," and challenged the "Colbert Nation" to "out-donate China." Colbert pointed his followers towards a donation text message and number for Convoy of Hope, a Christian poverty relief organization that helps millions across the world. David Donaldson, the ministry's co-founder, told The Christian Post earlier this week that his organization has raised nearly $300,000 for Philippine relief, due in part because of Colbert's effort during his show.
"[Colbert's challenge] helped us a ton with expanding our demographic reach," Donaldson said.
The Convoy of Hope co-founder also talked about the organization's relief work in the Phillipines.
"The logistical magnitude of this is unprecedented," Donaldson said. Before the typhoon, "we were already feeding 50,000 kids a week, 20,000 of whom we are feeding daily," he explained. In order to feed all 50,000 daily, the organization was expanding warehouse space, vehicle and logistical strategy, and even acquiring a boat to reach the more than 7,000 islands.
"The biblical strategy for eradicating poverty and eradicating hunger comes from Leviticus, where it says to leave a quarter of your field for the poor," Donaldson said. He praised many businessmen in America who decide to donate large sums of their earnings to charity. "I meet with corporate leaders who have made a decision to not be the richest CEO in the cemetery," he said. In particular, he praised Bill and Melinda Gates, whom he credited for helping to eradicate polio in India.
Donaldson also recalled having lived in poverty briefly himself. In 1969, his parents were hit by a vehicle driven by a drunk driver. The accident killed his father and maimed his mother, to the point where she lived in a body cast for several months. Nevertheless, she worked hard to train herself and get off of welfare.
"I understand there are those who are going to be on welfare for the rest of their life and we need to have that safety net," the Convoy co-founder admitted. "But at the same time, I admire my mom and others who have made a decision that they are going to get trained, retrained, and go from dependency to sustainability."
Terri Hasdorff, Convoy's vice president of Government Relations, expressed her surprise at the transformation in Haiti, where local farmers are now providing one third of the food the organization gives to starving children. "I personally saw the first shipment of 400,000 pounds of food, all grown locally," Hasdorff recounted. She thanked other organizations for their help in preparing farmers, listing Mission of Hope, Feed My Starving Children, and Rotary International.
Hasdorff described the joy and pride the farmers took in their own success. "They're so happy to have something that they can produce right there – they're not dependent," she said.
"Instead of infusing an economy with rice, which creates deflation and can put farmers out of business, we are helping them create their own," Donaldson explained, again on the situation in Haiti.
Donaldson also emphasized the value of charity. While many believe the Apostle Paul started his ministry as an evangelist or church planter, the Convoy co-founder argued that Paul started going city to city, "collecting offerings to help the poor in Jerusalem." Christianity was founded by generous giving, and Jesus hides himself in the poor, Donaldson said. "If we will take care of the most vulnerable, the widows and orphans, we will draw closer to Jesus."
He also emphasized the importance of charity to America. "If we cease to be good, we will then cease to be great," Donaldson said. "God has blessed this nation to be a blessing to the world," but he warned about a sense of isolationism. If Americans fear that their country is struggling, they may decide to withdraw their generosity in their own country and across the world.
"I have a dream," Donaldson proclaimed, and added that one day non-profits like his will eradicate child hunger. He hopes that his grandchildren will not even believe that there were any hungry children in America or across the world. "There is going to be that day, and we can do it."