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.
What are the best ways to fight poverty? It depends on what you mean by poverty.
If we mean economic poverty as defined by macroeconomic growth, then we must realize such growth is often catalyzed by nonprofits—some who lead change, and many who partner with the local church. In Nicaragua, for example, through a church-led, community-based agriculture initiative, families who once struggled to feed their children now sell their coffee to gourmet roasters in the U.S. and Europe.
If, by poverty, we mean disempowerment, characterized by the incapacity to access financial, social, or political resources, then helping people overcome their own poverty is essential. We must be careful not to do for others what they can do for themselves, else their change becomes ours, and we disempower.
Agriculture initiatives, microfinance, and child survival programs have reduced the vulnerability of millions ...1