Compassion International is behind a new campaign called Live58, aimed at uniting churches to eradicate poverty in the next century. I’m excited about it for several reasons. First, I’m a longtime fan of Compassion – we have been a part of their child sponsorship program for some time and have always loved the work they do. I also love the fact that they are calling on Christians to respond to poverty in a tangible way. I’m pretty vocal about my interpretation of Jesus’s teachings as being an edict to spread God’s love through care and compassion, and I think (based on those red letters) that serving the poor is where we should start. Lastly, I’m excited to see the next generation really sinking their teeth into the ideas of social justice. I know that some are critical of the current charitable marketing trends, but I like seeing a growing collective consciousness about helping impoverished people. I do believe that most third world problems can be tracked back to poverty. Children dying of easily preventable diseases . . . that’s about money. Children dying from lack of food . . . that’s about money. A similar-sized earthquake killing 63 people in Los Angeles and then 220,000 people in Haiti . . . that’s about money. Children who are abandoned by mothers who lack resources or access to healthcare . . . money. Live58 makes some provocative claims: that first-world Christian church is holding enough money to eradicate wide-scale poverty. It’s a lofty goal. They fully believe that we will be the last generation that bears witness to widespread extreme poverty. USA Today did a piece on Live58 this week and described it this way:
Scott Todd’s "58:" project declares that eradicating poverty is not only possible but probable, if the people of the church put their backs into it.
Such audacious optimism is one of the most infectious, exciting qualities of the new evangelicals movement of which Todd is part, and it surged like electricity through his and other presentations at this spring’s Q conference, the signature annual gathering of next-generation Christian leaders.
In the video below, they point out that in just 25 years the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half. In 1991, 52% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today, it’s only 21%. Could we get this number down to zero? What do you think? I’d really like to believe, and I’m hoping to play a part.