Anti-Poverty Activist: American Church a 'Sleeping Giant' on Poverty Issue

An anti-poverty activist who is a leader in an international organization focused on eliminating poverty believes that American churches are a "sleeping giant" on the issue.

Jason Fileta, director of Micah Challenge USA, told The Christian Post that while American churches do much to fight poverty, their voice on the issue needs to be heard.

"I think that the American church is almost a sleeping giant that needs to be awakened because American Christians are powerful enough to elect a president," said Fileta.

"Whoever our leader is, whoever ends up being the leader we want them to know that this matters deeply to us."

Fileta believes that American churches do much good on the issue of combating poverty, noting the many benefits of "mission trips" that provide a "very personal response that also includes giving."

"I think that the church at large in America has done well to respond with financial support, prayer, and relational support," said Fileta. "I do believe though that as a church we have not yet used our powerful collective voice to influence power structures."

The Micah Challenge was formed in 2004 with the cooperation of two international bodies, the World Evangelical Alliance and the Micah Network. The purpose of Micah Challenge is to serve as an advocacy group internationally to reduce poverty using the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals as a benchmark.

"Micah Challenge seeks transformational change in society, through the active involvement of the church with the poor and against the injustices of poverty," reads the "About us" section of their website.

"It seeks to sensitize and engage Christians into greater political and practical involvement with the issues relating to poverty by highlighting biblical truths which prompt a compassion of heart and quickness of the hands and feet."

Fileta made his remarks not long after completing a trip to Washington, D.C., that was focused on working with others to better spread awareness of anti-poverty issues to the presidential candidates.

"I was in D.C. to speak with our partners ... the organizations that share the mission of Micah Challenge and are also working towards the end of extreme poverty," said Fileta.

"Basically we were strategizing how to get the attention of our presidential candidates as it relates to the issue of extreme poverty."

When asked by CP as to whether private and public enterprise did better to address poverty, Fileta responded that they each do their part.

"Well I think that they do different kinds of good. I think morally and biblically we are called to be charitable in private and give generously of ourselves," said Fileta.

Fileta added that while he does not believe calls for public charity should reduce private charity, "I do believe [public charity] amplifies our private giving."

Fileta gave the example of charities he would give tens of dollars to, the government gives tens of millions of dollars to.

"I believe that the public responsibility can be very effective at mobilizing funds, I also believe that another aspect of government engagement with issues of poverty is not just helping people out of poverty, but creating policies that don't exacerbate poverty," said Fileta.

The Micah Challenge takes its name from Micah 6:8, "And what does the Lord require of you? Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly with Your God."

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In World