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The greatest social need in the world today is not HIV/AIDS outreach. It's not hunger. It's not global warming. Not ending poverty or eliminating malaria or tuberculosis. Not clean water. Not racial reconciliation. Not sexual trafficking. Not abortion. And it's not peace in the Middle East, and not even world peace.

These are not unimportant social issues. They grab the heart of God. God's compassion has always been focused on the poor and oppressed—something noted all through the Bible. So it's no surprise that God instructs his people to "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isa. 1:17, ESV).

And they have grabbed the hearts of evangelicals in a fresh way. One telling example: A decade ago, it was still rare to find an evangelical church with an HIV/AIDS ministry. Today, one can hardly find an evangelical church that doesn't have or support one.

HIV/AIDS ministry is one book in a library of social action we have written recently. And it's been noticed. Just last February, we felt our chest swell with pride when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said:

Today, conservative Christian churches do superb work on poverty, AIDS, sex trafficking, climate change, prison abuses, malaria, and genocide in Darfur. … Today, many evangelicals are powerful internationalists and humanitarians.

Other examples abound in politics, foreign policy, and international justice. It's been quite a ride on the racehorse of social action.

Despite the advances, none of this constitutes our movement's greatest contribution to the world. None of these good works—nay, great works—deal with the most profound social problem facing humankind.

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The Greatest Social Need
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January 2009

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