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.
As an advocate for poverty alleviation, I was grateful for Christianity Today's call to the Church to address global poverty. But I was surprised that in the list of top 10 strategies for poverty alleviation, only one (microfinance) is directly related to job creation.
Ward Brehm, author of White Man Walking, wrote, "The best way to help the poor is to help them not be poor anymore." Wouldn't job creation and employment be the most fundamental part of helping the poor "not be poor anymore"?
Beyond fostering financial independence, job creation challenges the notion that the poor are helpless, powerless, and voiceless. Traditional charity is necessary. But it is never enough to keep the poor off their knees.
Job creation, in contrast, is restoring the God-given dignity of the poor. Employment-based solutions like Christ-centered microfinance—which includes offering not only small loans, but also biblically-based entrepreneurship training, discipleship, and savings—unlock the poor's strengths, potential, and skills.
Beyond just microfinance, I am enthusiastic about the ways the Church is creatively working to find a solution to poverty. For example, the Chalmers Center, a Christ-centered organization, designs and teaches biblically-based business curriculum to empower the poor to manage their money, save, and expand their businesses. Jobs for Life equips churches to teach basic skills necessary to find and maintain a job. Sovereign Wealth Fund invests in kingdom businesses that help build a thriving middle class. Domestically and internationally, Christian organizations are lifting up the name of Jesus and carrying out the most basic form of poverty alleviation: helping the financially poor to find a job.
By doing so, they are enabling the poor to flourish—not merely survive.
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February's cover package included:
The Best Ways to Fight Poverty—Really | The government is by far the best institution to raise the poor's standard of living. The church does something more important for them. By Mark Galli
Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor | Economists rate impact. By Bruce Wydick
Other replies today include:
Christians Really Do Reduce Poverty | Government change often can't get to the root of the problem of poverty. The church does. By Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US
Focus on Solving the Poverty of the Soul | Our aid to the poor should always address their area of greatest need. By Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse
What Do You Mean by Poverty? | Overcoming poverty is possible and proven. But superficiality has paralyzed the church. By Stephan Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief
We Can't Do Everything | But we can change systems to protect the poor, and that requires cooperation on all fronts. By Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International
Poverty Has Many Enemies | The solution does not require a choice between individuals and institutions. By Greg Forney and Lucas Koach, Food for the Hungry
The Local Church's Neighbors Are Everywhere | The church isn't just a network of institutions trying to stretch across the globe. By Matt Anslow, national young adults coordinator of TEAR Australia
Also, Mark Galli responds to the responses.