Earlier this year, over 200 people traveled to Washington DC with a commitment in their hearts to helping people living in extreme poverty. They joined with others from all walks of life: college students, faith leaders, full-time mothers, community activists, veterans and many more. As different as each individual was, they were united in their cause. They were convened by the ONE Campaign to meet with over 200 members of congress and their staff members with the goal of asking them to protect life-saving programs in the this year’s international affairs budget.
Similarly, just last week, nine volunteers from Saint Luke helped the ONE Campaign gather support from over 1,200 people attending a Philadelphia concert by the band U2. Concertgoers added their name to a letter insisting that life-saving programs for the world’s poorest people are not forgotten by our elected leaders.
Regardless of where people fall across the political spectrum, we can work together for change. As ONE co-founder (and leader singer of U2) Bono said during the concert, “We’ll find common ground by reaching for higher ground.”
Today's guest blogger, Pastor Matt Staniz, is one of the hundreds that has gathered with ONE Campaign. To him, such advocacy is a vital part of living out both Christian faith and civic duty as citizens. Here’s 3 reasons why...
1. It’s the Right Thing to Do…and the Smart Thing, too!
Our faith insists that God is with the vulnerable and the poor. That simple truth gives shape to our sense of right and wrong. We are challenged every day to see the face of Jesus among “the least of these” and to respond with compassion and courage. Supporting work that saves the lives of the world’s poorest people from preventable diseases and the cycle of extreme poverty is demanded of us as people who seek to be followers of Jesus. It is also, however, a very smart strategy to stand behind: the work to end extreme poverty improves the global economy for everyone and is also vital to reducing the power of violent extremism. Most importantly is the simple fact that all of this is accomplished with less than one percent of the U.S. budget!
2. So Much has Been Accomplished
Less than 20 years ago, it appeared that parts of Sub-Saharan Africa would never survive the crisis of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Because the progress made since then, over 18 million people are receiving life-saving treatments, up from less than 1 million people. Equally dramatic decreases in deaths from malaria and tuberculosis have also occurred during this same time. Last year, a new global strategy was enacted that can virtually eliminate deaths from preventable disease by the year 2030 if the world remains committed to this life-saving work. This massive progress has opened new doors of opportunity in recent years that is focused less on responding to crisis and more on building a sustainable future. In 2016, we saw the passage of the Electrify Africa Act that will bring electricity to at least 50 million people for the first time. We also saw the passage of the Global Food Security Act that creates new avenues to make a sustainable response to hunger and childhood nutrition. Millions of lives have been saved, but we must remain committed to continuing this work until the cycle of extreme poverty is eliminated.
3. This Work Empowers our Ministry in Africa
Like many faith communities, Saint Luke includes in our mission work the goal of extending the reach of God’s grace around the world. We are partnered with Mikanjuni Lutheran Parish in Tanga, Tanzania and our shared ministry is growing and thriving. The lives being saved are those of our sisters and brothers in Christ. The communities that are being transformed from death to life include people that we have a direct relationship with. As increased access to education becomes possible in Tanzania, our relationship with Mikanjuni has already resulted in the beginning of the Saint Luke Mikanjuni Nursery School and the creation of scholarships at various levels of education through the African Education Program. Members of Saint Luke have become direct sponsors for students in Tanzania. Such ministry will continue to show God’s grace and change the lives of people in Tanzania as well as here in Pennsylvania. All of it, however, remains dependent upon continued commitment to the fight against extreme poverty!
I invite you to join me in this ongoing work by visiting www.ONE.org and adding your voice to this important work. Your voice matters. I need your help as members of Saint Luke and churches around the world to be an advocate for the world’s poorest people. If you have read this far, you are the right person to be a leader in advocacy work.
May God give you the courage to stand when no others will stand. May He give you boldness to raise your voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. May He use your hands to bring His healing to this broken world.
Special thanks to guest blogger, Matt Staniz. Matt Staniz is the Pastor of Youth, Family & service at Saint Luke.