Eugene Cho is a Seattle based pastor of Quest Church and the Founder of an Organization called, "One Day's Wages" which aims to end extreme poverty in our lifetime.
Is that even possible? Eugene thinks so.
The news media is stuck on a constant cycle of negativity with wars, terrorism, poverty, starvation, and all the ills of the world. It makes us feel like nothing will ever change.
The statistics are showing us that extreme poverty has been cut in half in one generation but we never hear about it.
This makes us think that we could end poverty. That belief and conviction is shared by nearly everyone on the ground engaging in issues of development and global poverty. Not in a naïve sense but they believe extreme poverty (those who survive on less than $1.25 a day) can be eradicated within our lifetime. That's not talking about general poverty but the issues of extreme poverty where nearly 650 million people don't have access to clean water. It's not because there is no water there, it's an issue of will and being able to develop healthy and sustainable development.
There is a currency that is running our larger media and culture and its often bad news and fear.
Part of our challenge is to be people who are heralds of good news, ultimately the GREAT news of Jesus Christ Lord and Saviour. However, we also need to be good story tellers that are documenting all the good that is going on in our broken world.
If anyone had the right to be discouraged it would be people who are seeing that poverty firsthand, who hear the stories of hardship. If they can be encouraged and believe an answer is possible then everyone else should join in. We need more people to believe it and take actions as they are convicted to participate. It is so tempting in our culture to abdicate responsibility but we need people to join the efforts of compassion, mercy and justice.
There are so many needs and so many people asking for money and it gets overwhelming, people get disheartened. How do we overcome that donor fatigue that happens?
Eugene says that it begins by just acknowledging it. We are all humans and so it is very likely and human for us to grow fatigue, and it might be for a season. We also have to be mindful of the stories we are listening to.
We hear the story of a scam and we allow that story to have this broad stroke over everything and that isn't fair. It's not fair to all the other organizations and people who are doing work with integrity.
When engaging with issues of development or justice it is always messy. We have to be open to liberating ourselves and organizations that they don't always have to package stories in a nice, glamourous way, but to say that when we get our hands dirty, the work is going to get messy.
We also need to be reminded that it is not just about us, there are so many people around the world that are inspired to do good.
The things God may be convicting you of, might be different than the convictions God has placed on another's heart. We need to cheer each other on and encourage one another. We don't need to be in competition.
The church is big enough, the culture and larger world is big enough for each of us to be faithful to the things God has called us to.
Eugene's organization "One Days Wages" has the mentality of getting the grass roots mobilized. Of getting people who haven't really given a lot before to give for the first time to these causes. They do that by challenging people to give one day's wages.
One day's wages are approximately 0.4% of one's annual income in North America.
That may not seem like a lot of money but in other parts of the world it can have a significant impact.
We are all called to be philanthropists.
Philanthropist means a lover of humanity. It is not just a Christian issue but a human being issue. It's what is means to be a human being.
In Eugene's passion to make a difference for the poor he
recently went over to the Middle East to deal with the refugee crisis that has
"One Day's Wages" is trying to raise a half a million dollars for the Middle East.
They went to the border between Turkey and Syria. It wasn't part of the plan but they were a mile and a half away from an ISIS camp of about 5000 soldiers. They were there to learn more about the plight and the story of the Syrian refugees that has impacted about 16 million people. A quarter of a million people have already died as a result of this horrible humanitarian crisis. About half of those that have been impacted are children.
They went to visit a city that in the span of a couple years has grown from 100,000 to 300,000 so 2 out of every 3 people are refugees. They are looking at what sustainability looks like; they are working to provide education for these children that are refugees. Studies have shown that only 10 to 15 percent of these Syrian refugees are currently in school.
Many fear that terrorists are sneaking in with refugees with ill intent. We sometimes put up walls because of fear and don't want to let anybody in because we don't know who to trust.
We need to acknowledge that it is okay to be afraid. We also need to acknowledge that our culture runs on the currency of fear and division.
Jesus however, did not operate on a currency of fear, and judgement, and condemnation, but of hope.
We acknowledge that there needs to be wisdom on how we engage these issues we have to be reminded of the humanity of each person. Every person was created in the image of God.
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