Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DOES INTERNATIONAL CHARITY [INVESTMENT] MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Investments in developing countries and children's lives are resulting in unprecedented breakthroughs in disease, education, and poverty.

International Child Care Ministries, the initiative I work directly with, is always asking for sponsors, for support for our food funds, and for contributions to special projects.  Hundreds of other international charitable organizations do the same.  Is it making any difference?

Absolutely.

You likely miss it in the news media, but in the face of still unimaginable poverty, suffering, and death, there are unprecedented breakthroughs.  These are a direct result of caring people who persistently invest in some of the most impoverished places in the world.  Consider this good news from developing countries:

  • The number of children under age 5 who die annually has fallen from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010 (UNICEF & WHO). This is attributable to clean water initiatives, anti-malaria campaigns, investment in immunizations, and education of young women.
     
  • The proportion of underweight children younger than age 5 declined by 1/5 between 1990 and 2005.
     
  • 29 million more African children are in schools today than in 2000.

     
  • Enrollment in primary schools in developing countries increased to 88% in 2006.

  • More girls are attending school now than ever before.

  • 1.6 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 2001.

  • 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have since 1995 increased the average income of their people by 50% and reduced poverty by 20%.  14 of these countries have also become democracies.
These breakthroughs, noted by David Beckmann in his recent book Exodus from Hunger (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), have been hammered out in the face of huge obstacles, resistant ideologies, marginal resources, and constant violence.  But Beckmann, head of Bread for the World and winner of the 2010 World Food Prize, notes:

"Hundreds of millions of people have escaped from hunger and poverty in our time, and all the nations of the world have acknowledged that further progress is possible.  Given what the Bible teaches about God's concern for the poor and God's presence in history, doesn't it make sense to thank God for this great liberation?  Doesn't it make sense to see it as an experience of God's saving action in our own history?  Isn't God present in whatever efforts we make to help people escape from hunger and poverty?"

Global needs continue to be overwhelming.  Thousands of children die every day of malnutrition and preventable diseases; many thousands more have their futures compromised for lack of opportunities.  Yet, it seems appropriate to take a moment to stop, take note, and give thanks for these breakthroughs--all the while intensifying our prayers and investment to see more lives saved physically, educationally, socially, and spiritually.   

I'm thankful for the 12,000+ partners who invest in children, families, and communities in 30 countries through ICCM in the small part of this great effort that Free Methodists have been given to share in.  I'm grateful, also, for millions who carry this torch through manifold efforts under breathtakingly diverse banners.

In the face of the specter of dramatic cuts to basic domestic and international hunger-prevention and development funding being considered by Congress (thus setting back long-term progress that's been made in our generation and overriding the will of a vast majority of good-hearted Americans), this is an important moment to let our national leaders know directly where we stand and what we desire.  Advocates at Bread for the World can help you reach your Congressional representatives right now - http://www.bread.org.
To learn more about ICCM, explore a $25-a-month sponsorship, or get involved, click hereTo contribute to an ICCM food fund, click hereTo view an ICCM video story, click here.  To receive an ICCM Church or Small Group Action Kit, click here.

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