I’m just back from a two-day Pastors’ Advocacy Summit in DC sponsored by World Vision. Inspire Justice was designed to help church leaders partner with government and NGO’s to save the lives of millions of women and children worldwide. Presently, over 7.6 million children die each year of preventable causes like pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition. That translates into 30 children dying every two minutes, or a city the size of New York wiped out every year.
We heard from Rich Sterns, President of World Vision and author of The Hole in Our Gospel, Rev. Alexis Salvatierra, pastor and advocacy expert; Dr. Gloria Ekco, HIV/AIDS specialist; Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President Bush, and several White House and Senate staffers.
On the positive side, we learned that great gains have been made in the past decade or so, due in large part to government –funded programs started by President Bush and extended by President Obama. Many of these funds have been effectively administered on the ground by faith-based agencies like World Vision. Compared to twenty years ago, 4 million more children live past their fifth birthday every year, 5 million HIV/AIDS patients are living to raise their children, and hundreds of thousands more women survive childbirth. (Check out >http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/learn/globalissues-disease-poverty?Open&lpos=lft_txt_Child-Health-Now )
On the negative side, we learned that many of these lifesaving funds are in danger of being cut in the current budget crisis. Such cuts would mean the loss of millions of lives, and would threaten our national security by increasing instability and unrest in nations vulnerable to extremism.
While congressional leaders are feeling pressure to reduce foreign aid as a cost-cutting measure, the reality is that foreign aid expenditures only amount to one-half of one percent of our total budget. (Not 20+ %, as many Americans believe!) Such cuts will have virtually no effect on resolving our fiscal crisis.
We were challenged to pray for our government leaders, and to advocate for the most vulnerable by calling leaders to fulfill their God-ordained mission to promote good, restrain evil, and protect the vulnerable. In particular, World Vision is urging the White House and Congress to preserve full funding for foreign aid.
I come home with a better understanding of how government works, and how the church can properly influence our nation and leaders to pursue righteousness. I’m proud of our nation for our commitment to compassion and justice beyond our borders, and I’m grateful for a congregation that is committed to biblically-informed, non-partisan engagement in national and global affairs.
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