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.
Galli paints a picture of Christian action too humble for its own good; a charitable cleaning up after government has done its job (or even failed to do so). I'm not sure how he derives this from Christ's example. Galli rightly insists on eschatological witness. But a truly eschatological witness, in which we proclaim poverty's eventual end at Christ's coming, seeks also to incarnate Christ's proclamation by striving to end poverty, even if that goal will not be fully realized for now. If, for Galli, the concern is enacting obedience over-against pragmatism, then the words of the prophets, or Jesus' command to love our neighbor, should jolt us from slumber for obedience in serving the poor.
It seems Galli has some confusion over what churches are told by "activists" to do about poverty. I know no one who suggests individual churches should "match the sweep of national and global initiatives." ...1
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