NEW YORK – Thousands of Christians from over 20 countries celebrated Micah Sunday yesterday, participating in festivals, prayer services and exhibitions all aimed at raising awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and poverty.
Micah Sunday is an annual effort by Micah Challenge, a global campaign of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Micah Network, to mobilize churches and Christians against poverty through unified gestures.
This year, Micah Sunday overlapped with “Stand Up,” an international anti-poverty event where millions around the world are attempting to break a world record on the number of people standing up against poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals.
“Christ taught us that finding justice takes passion and persistence,” said Michael Smitheram, the International Director for Micah Challenge. “Each year Micah Sunday shows political leaders that Christians are passionate and persistent about achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“This year we're sending that message and we're preparing churches to campaign for the MDGs at 'half-time' in 2007,” he added in reference to the midpoint between the year 2000 when the MDG commitment began and the 2015 goal.
Organizers from several countries have already reported success in rallying church support:
• In Sierra Leone, over 300,000 people were expected to “Stand Up” against poverty in their church services. A church leaders workshop and football match in the National practice stadium in Freetown were organized specifically for the cause.
• In Australia, 130 Christians took part in a three-day “Voices for Justice” campaign. The effort involved preaching to over 70 politicians a strong message that global poverty can be halved by 2015.
• In Peru, youth from all over the country were expected to join a Youth Music Festival against poverty, where participants could discuss debt and trade issues. Cinema Forums showed movies that gave an insight into poverty issues for the Evangelical community and general public.
• In Amsterdam there was to be a youth service held in a hotel featuring music, speech, praying and worship organized by Fair Food who endorse Micah Challenge.
• In the U.S., the famous New Year’s Eve ball made a first-ever non-holiday appearance at Times Square to “stand up” and lead the crowd in achieving the world record.
Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, explained that Micah Sunday is an important symbolic day to stand with those who are impacted by the ravages of extreme poverty.
“It is a time to deepen our own involvement with the poor and remind governments of their promises of reducing poverty in the world,” said Tunnicliffe.