Dear co-worker in Christ,
I have a simple request -- but it could determine whether millions live or die.
You've probably read in the papers about "The ONE Campaign: To Make Poverty History" that's been endorsed by a wide coalition of folks from all across the faith and political spectrum. Helping the hurting is something we all want to do.
I've never been involved in partisan politics -- and don't intend to do so now -- but global poverty is an issue that rises far above mere politics. It is a moral issue . a compassion issue . and because Jesus commanded us to help the poor, it is an obedience issue! He told us to do all we can to alleviate the pain of our brothers and sisters: "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40, NKJV)
That's why John Stott, Billy Graham, and many other evangelical leaders are joining me in lending our names and prayers to this campaign. I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God's love for the world: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:17, NIV)
We are blessed to be a blessing to others, and certainly America, as the most blessed nation on our planet, has the greatest obligation to help those who are stuck in poverty around the world. Last month, I was in Kenya and Uganda, and then in Rwanda where the average income in that nation is 67 cents a day! Imagine trying to raise a family on that.
If you were hopelessly in debt, with no chance of ever getting out of debt -- or even your children getting out of debt -- you'd despair. But if someone cancelled all your debts -- as the Bible commanded Israel to often do -- you'd have the hope of a new future. The poor aren't asking for a handout -- they just need a hand up!
This summer, at the G8 conference, our nation has a historic opportunity to lead the world by showing a visible and significant commitment to the fight against global poverty, hunger, and disease. In early July, President Bush will gather together with leaders from the world's eight wealthiest nations in Edinburgh, Scotland, to discuss these very issues -- especially in Africa.
We all grieved when 250,000 lives were lost in the tsunami in Southeast Asia. But there is a health tsunami of that proportion in Africa every 12 days!
What can we do? For the past two years, I've had 4,500 of our Saddleback members quietly testing a prototype of our global P.E.A.C.E. Plan in 47 countries. It is a strategy for small groups in churches to show compassion. Once we have the template perfected, we'll share it with every church that's interested.
But there is something much simpler that you can do right now: Join me and other evangelical leaders in an open letter to President Bush that encourages him -- with our support and prayers -- to take specific, measurable actions to fight poverty, hunger, and disease at the G8 summit. Below is a copy of the text of this open letter we're sending.
All I need you to do is e-mail me back at firstname.lastname@example.org giving your name and title, and I'll add your name to the list. Also you can visit www.one.org for more information.
If you can send a copy of your signature (preferably in a jpeg format) to add to the bottom of the letter, that would be great, but don't let that delay your response. We'd rather hear from you now.
Thanks in advance for showing your compassion for those suffering from disease, hunger, and poverty.
May God bless your ministry,
Dr. Rick Warren Pastor, Saddleback Church Author, The Purpose Driven Life
Dear President Bush,
At the G8 leaders meeting on July 6th we urge you to:
We urge you to lead an historic deal with other nations to help Africa and the poorest nations overcome global AIDS and extreme poverty. Together as ONE, we can Make Poverty History this July.
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