Editor's note: February's cover package, "The Best Ways to Fight Poverty—Really" (part one, part two), received remarkable numbers of pageviews, praises, and protests. It also provoked responses from many organizations devoted to fighting poverty. Today, leaders of those ministries respond, including World Vision US president Richard Stearns, Samaritan's Purse president Franklin Graham, Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford, HOPE International president and CEO Peter Greer, World Relief president and CEO Stephan Bauman, Food for the Hungry workers Greg Forney and Lucas Koach, and TEAR Australia national young adults coordinator Matt Anslow. Also today, Christianity Today senior managing editor Mark Galli, whose article "A Most Personal Touch" led off the February cover package, replies to the ministry leaders.
One of Christianity Today's articles on the anti-poverty strategies determined that the church did a relatively poor job when compared with government. The second article concluded that poverty-related programs from Christian ministries should "start emphasizing prevention over cure."
The flaw in both of these conclusions is that poverty is a direct result of sin and the fall of man.
The word "poverty" paints a picture of hopeless despair. No one enjoys looking at bone-thin bodies with hollow eyes staring back. But these are often the photographs we see displayed when the subject of poverty becomes a news story. This is a portrait of many under-developed countries. I know; I've been there—for 40 years.
Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you" (Matt. 26:11). No matter how much food we give, how many shelters we provide, how many physicians we deploy or how much medicine we send, ...1