(Photo: REUTERS / Navesh Chitrakar)
According to a new study, 93 percent of Christians say they are concerned about global poverty, but many of them are unaware of the progress that has been made in the quest to eliminate poverty worldwide.
The study was conducted in September by the Barna Group, which surveyed 1,429 adults in the U.S. with an oversampling of young Christians. The survey was commissioned by Compassion International, a Christian organization that ministers to over 1.2 million needy children in 26 different countries worldwide.
One-third of Christians surveyed said they were “extremely concerned” about the world's poverty problems and four out of five of Christians said they feel a special responsibility to help solve them.
Scott C. Todd, senior ministry advisor in the President's Office of Compassion International, said Christians, especially those belonging to younger generations, have become increasingly involved in taking up the cause of the impoverished.
"What would happen if these millions of Christians began to live out the fundamental teachings of their faith in a new way? 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?" asked Todd.
"I believe these changes are underway on a massive scale. We are witnessing an awakening."
The study found that younger Christians, those under the age of 40, give 50 percent more than older Christians to fight global poverty. Also, 45 percent of young Christians believe their churches should do more to help the poor, as opposed to just 23 percent of older Christians who believe the same.
The study also found many Christians, despite their concern and generosity toward the poor, aren't aware of how much progress has been made in the last several decades. Over the last 30 years the extreme poverty rate has actually decreased from 52 percent to 26 percent worldwide, but 93 percent of those surveyed guessed the rate to be the same or worse than it was in 1990.
Ending extreme poverty seems like an unrealistic goal to most people, but Todd says it is closer than most realize. His book, Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty, tackles this issue and says the goal is within reach.
“As Christians who are already deeply concerned about global poverty begin to understand they can bring an end to extreme poverty – that it is doable – we will see an even more dramatic increase in engagement," he writes.
According to the Barna study, 46 percent of those surveyed said they would “do significantly more” to end poverty if they knew that it was possible. Todd doesn't just think it's possible, he thinks it is possible within the next 25 years if Christians step up to address the problem.
Todd played a major role in the creation of 58:, a coalition of Christian organizations, churches and individuals who are working together to address the poverty problem.
“58: The Film” is a documentary promoting the organization's cause by showing the horrors of extreme poverty – the lack of food, water, education and a safe place to live in some places of the world – and how God and His people are making a difference. The film was released this past weekend and can be viewed at group screenings or in DVD, broadcast and online formats.
In September, the film's co-director, Tony Neeves, told CP, "The Bible is really clear that God loves the poor and the oppressed, and has a very special concern for them, and really calls His children, His followers, to have that same heart.”
On the Web: live58.org