Youth Speak Out About Anti-Poverty

NEW YORK -- Twenty-five year old seminary student, Adam Phillips, drove from Chicago 13 hours overnight with four others to make a stand for anti-poverty at the United Nations World Summit, Sept. 14-16.

"United Nations is an organization of global neighbors," said Phillips. "I really wanted to be here to raise our voices together to our leaders to do more for our brothers and sisters who are poor."

Phillips is one of dozens of youths who came out to New York, sacrificing school and work, to pray and fast hoping to influence the UN proceedings on anti-poverty.

Phillips said his faith compelled him to come.

"I came because my faith compels me to be here. I'm called to love my neighbor as I love myself," he explained.

Poverty kills 30,000 children every day, states the large banners adorning the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, one block down from the United Nations building. Many pedestrians stopped to read the hand-written cards by American children pleading for their impoverished counterparts.

"It's really obvious how strong the U.S. voice is in the United Nations. What the U.S. says and does can cripple or bring life to the programs that can help poor people across the world," said Phillips. "So as an American, I feel compelled to raise my voice out of love for the neighbor who doesn't have that opportunity."

Youth Speak Out! marked day two of the three-day event. The youth rally was preceded by a rally of 22 American evangelical leaders on Wednesday, and a separate event of 30 world Christian leaders on Tuesday. All desired world governments to pledge more aid to eradicate poverty.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan previously agreed to meetings with the Christians, one with each of the two groups of leaders, but excused himself due to security reasons and a lack of time.

Though some felt differently, undergraduate student of North Park College, Tim King, said the missed meeting does not disappoint him because his focus is not on men, but on God.

"I don't think it's a failure we didn't get to meet him," said King, 21. "We serve a God who is greater than all of us, and the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than all of the 191 countries in the U.N. combined."

Anti-poverty concerns dates back to Biblical times, but since the U.N. sponsored the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, denominations, ministries, and large mission organizations began to rally themselves under various initiatives, such as the Make Poverty History campaign, the Micah Challenge, and the One Campaign.

"The fight to end Global Poverty goes beyond today, goes beyond this week. The Millennium Development Goals seek to put an end to extreme poverty, where people live on less than $1 a day," said Phillips.

"If you'd like to get involved and find people who are working together on this in your country, visit www.makepovertyhistory.org or www.one.org. If you'd like Christian resources on prayer and ministry tools, visit micahchallenge.org."

A final breaking-the-fast worship event is to take place Friday.