As the contrast between the wealthiest and the poorest people and nations becomes more and more extreme an increasing challenge exists for Christians, especially Christians who are lucky enough to live in the world’s wealthiest countries, like us. However there are many varying ways in which Christians might support those who are poor around the world.
Debt is one of the main causes of poverty. Most less economically developed countries (LEDC’s) have to borrow a lot of money from the more economically developed countries (MEDC’s) countries to survive and develop. However, MEDC’s charge interest so the LEDC’s find, often when their circumstances change, that they are unable to meet repayments on these loans. In order for LEDC’s to develop and get themselves out of poverty they need the MEDC’s to cancel or reduce their debt. Some Christians might support charities such as “Make Poverty History” that aim to pressurise the leaders of the MEDC’s into cancelling the debts.
With the aid of organisations such as CAFOD Christians can support the poor in many ways. Christians can make donations to CAFOD; they can do this either through donating their own money or through fundraising activities. Another direct way in which Christians can help to support CAFOD is through participating in campaign work and increasing public awareness of those in poverty. Campaigning may include signing petitions, attending rallies, participating in conferences or writing letters to politicians.
CAFOD is an example of a charity that provides help both in long- term and short- term aid to many countries and projects across the world. The tsunami that hit Asia on the 26th December 2004 destroyed thousands of lives, homes and livelihoods. People in the UK donated twenty- seven million pounds to CAFOD, including over nine million pounds from the Catholic community, to help the survivors of the tsunami. In the first few months CAFOD distributed food to over 120,000 people and helped find many peoples’ loved ones. This is an example of short -term aid to the people affected by a sudden natural disaster.
Malawi is currently one of the poorest countries in Africa. Most of the 11 million people living in the country are farmers, meaning that they are totally reliant on the food they grow. Most of these farmers have little land and the extreme heat and poor soil make it difficult for them. CAFOD’s intention is to improve conditions for these people by funding agriculture programmes. While this aid does not consist of direct financial support, the programme provides education to the farmers meaning that they can learn how best they can grow crops and survive. This is an example of long- term aid and has a more sustainable approach.
As Christians, we should realise that physical aid is not enough, we see this in Matthew 4; ‘Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’, this means that spiritual healing is also necessary. So many Christians choose to support the poor in the world by praying for them.
Christians can support poor people in third world countries by doing their shopping in ethical ways. They can do this buy purchasing fair-trade items from their supermarkets. Fair-trade products are products that guarantee that the producers of the products are being paid a fair price for their labour and not being exploited. They can also support third world countries by boycotting certain companies like Nike and Nestlï¿½ that have been proven to be exploiting disadvantaged workers. They could also support the third world through their work. For example they could refuse to work for or invest in unethical companies or businesses.
Christians can support the poor through the democratic process by electing politicians that share their views on world poverty. Governments can support charitable giving with schemes such as “gift aid” and “give as you earn”. These are schemes which maximise donations via tax relief. Some governments also give direct aid to poor countries.
Supporting the poor can also involve individual Christians travelling to third world countries to give direct aid to the poor.
In conclusion, there are many different ways in which Christians choose to support the poor. Not all of these methods involve financial support.