We've asked 114 leaders from 11 ministry spheres about evangelical priorities for the next 50 years. Here's what they said about relief and development.
Worldwide, 29,000 children die every day of preventable causes, while 800 million are malnourished, 1 billion cannot access clean water, 8 million are refugees, and 15 million children have lost parents to AIDS. Unfortunately, such statistics will remain staggering for the next 50 years. But relief and development leaders seem less concerned about which challenges are most urgent and more about how we face them.
Perhaps the greatest how is related to Christian identity: "The most important challenge that will face evangelical relief in the next 50 years," said Franklin Graham of Samaritan's Purse, "is to make sure we don't dilute our faith as we respond to hurting people around the world."
Robert S. Paul, president of Medical Ambassadors International, articulated another common theme: It's not just giving aid but "partnering with the poor" that's the key. "A truly integrated, practical, and effective approach to ministry requires a shift from 'having the answer for others,'" Paul said, "to an attitude of 'continual learning with others' to join hands with evangelicals around the world as co-disciples and co-learners in discovering the Lord's way forward in development."
Even more than these hows, leaders are concerned about making sure that care for the poor, in whatever form, remains an evangelical priority.
"[Historians may] step back and look at evangelicals of our times as materialistic and moralistic," said Ben Homan, president of Food for the Hungry. "The challenge, I think, for relief and development is to call the church and call evangelicals to a deep concern ...1
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