Wednesday, September 24, 2008

rich christians in and age of hunger

on occasion i receive responses to what i write or the videos i produce. it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does i am always interested in what viewers and readers are thinking.

i recently received a response to my newest video, Bonhoeffer and the Loss of God, which included several further email exchanges. i thought i would share a couple paragraphs from one on those posts that came from a unique perspective:

"I've walked through countries in which 99.999% of the people "vote" for the current leader (if you know what I mean). I've walked through countries where the people believe the blood of an albino will cure any disease, and the blood of a lion will make them invincible to bullets. I've walked through countries in where I've met pastors who couldn't put all of their worldly possessions inside the trunk of a Volkswagen, yet you cold never erase the joy from their heart. I come home and see the Church try to raise 25,000 dollars for a new sign to put out in front of the building, and I wonder about the Bible College in the middle of a muslim dominated country that is equipping new pastors for 80 dollars a month.

I come home and I watch people complain about the price of gas, not even realizing for every one of them, there are 1o more who don't even have clean drinking water. I come home and watch people throw away so much food, and never even try to work 2 days on what some people have to survive on. There's a reason "Garri" is such a popular food in Nigeria. I come home and watch families act like the only reason they have to talk to each other is because they just happen to live under the same roof. And this is just a small part of how much I've seen and how much my eyes have been opened."

the above came to me as i was working through an article i found on theOOZE entitled, why christians suck. the upshot of this article is similar to the email i received, calling us, as christians, to respond to the needs of the poor. tom davis authored this article and he writes: “Outside of a tiny minority of Christians, we have become a self-centered group of priggish snobs.”


he goes on to write:

Here are the facts:

Eighty-five percent of young people outside the church who have had connection to Christians believe present-day Christianity is hypocritical. Inside the church, forty-seven percent of young people believe the same thing.

And why wouldn't they? We’re pretty stingy with our money:
  • - 80 percent of the world’s evangelical wealth is in North America.
  • - Giving by churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression than it is today.
  • - Christians give an average of $13.31/week to their local church.
  • - Only 9 percent of “born-again” adults reported tithing in 2004.
And let's take a peek in on our neighbors:
  • - More than 1 billion people live in absolute poverty.
  • - 500 million people are at the edge of starvation.
  • - 200 million children are being exploited as laborers.
  • - Half of the human beings on the planet live on less than $2/day.
  • - 1.5 billion people do not have enough money to buy food.

pretty potent stuff, both statements. all this reminded me of a book i read 25 years ago called, rich christian in a age of hunger. this book, by ronald j. sider, is described on the CBD website like this:

“When Ron Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger first appeared twenty-eight years ago, it shook readers to the core. Informed about the issues of world hunger and poverty, they could no longer ignore the plight of their global neighbors. This thoroughly revised edition of Sider's best-selling book outlines the progress that has been made in the last three decades, and the work that is still left to do. Every day 30,000 children still die of starvation and preventable diseases, and 1.2 billion people live in relentless, unrelieved poverty worldwide.

Why is there still so much poverty? Conservatives blame sinful individual choices and laziness. Liberals condemn economic and social structures. Who is right? Who is wrong? Both, according to Sider, who explains poverty's complex causes in this new edition and offers concrete, practical proposals for change.”

more next time...