It’s a hard thing to see the reality of extreme poverty. At least for those of us who don’t live it every day. Our world doesn’t put the faces of our vulnerable neighbors in front of us often enough. And, when it does, let’s be honest – we don’t want to look for very long. It’s a hard thing to bear, to know, to have hope in the face of. Extreme poverty degrades the dignity that each of us is born with – something people of all faiths agree on.
Most of us get stuck though in this divide between charity and justice. We have strong opinions about both. We toss aside the “social justice warrior” or assume those giving with their own hands and checkbooks don’t quite understand the size of the problem they’re laboring against. It’s a false dichotomy. We should get it out of our heads. Yes, the needs of our neighbors require our immediate action. And yes, the needs of our neighbors requires us to stand up and call leaders to account for their role in supporting those in greatest need.
I can’t get caught in the false dichotomy between the scale of problem and the scale of our response. That’s why ONE works with artists like Jon Jorgenson to help us all see a bit better the importance of our voice. He’s right: “One billion hungry people is not sad. It’s unjust.” The pervasive reality of hunger deserves our attention — in time and money, yes, but also with our voice. Advocacy – literally voicing the needs of our neighbors alongside them – makes a difference. It unlocks a scale of response that’s fit for the scale of the problem.
And we can’t properly respond without our African brothers and sisters. That’s why ONE has staff on the ground across Africa to equip our 3+ million members across the continent to raise their voice and call their own leaders to fight extreme poverty. We walk together in this journey, hand in hand as co-advocates. As a Christian, it’s an opportunity for me to stand alongside my fellow believers, living out the instruction Paul gave to the Corinthians: “If one member [of the body of Christ] suffers, member part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (12:26, ESV)
In the faces, the hands, the feet of ONE members and fellow believers, God is already meeting the need of those who he loves. As Jon puts it, “God’s already with them. He’s waiting for us. So raise your voice.” I couldn’t agree more.