Has The Church Forgotten The Poor?

UK survey reveals concerning statistic in achieving the eradication of extreme poverty worldwide

Don’t lose hope. That’s the message from international child development charity Compassion UK as a survey finds less than half (49%) of UK adults believe it is possible to end extreme poverty worldwide. This number was only slightly higher for Christians – 59% – and only 58% of Christians thought that eradicating extreme poverty is a priority for the world currently.

On this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October), the statistics point to an urgent need for action. COVID-19 posed a huge setback to poverty-reducing efforts and the rapid decrease in extreme poverty rates in recent years has stopped. We are going backwards. If trends persist, an alarming 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty by the end of the decade. Currently, nearly 10% of the world’s populations are living below the poverty line at $2.15 per day.

Mark Preston, Compassion UK’s Senior Director of Partnerships, said, “We need hope to drive our fight against poverty. In fact, it’s more important than ever not to lose hope – while COVID has put a spanner in the works of poverty eradication, now is the time we need to take action to make sure this setback isn’t permanent. Here at Compassion, we believe the church has a crucial role to play in addressing extreme poverty and we’re encouraged by the impact right now. There is a transformative and exponential impact in a locally-led approach. This gives us hope in the fight against poverty.”

Compassion UK is urging Christians to take hope in the initiatives being driven by local churches in some of the world’s poorest countries. For example, Compassion’s 8.500 partner churches are providing opportunities to children and young people that will lift them out of poverty and change the future of these communities.

Noirine Khaitsa, from Uganda grew up in poverty and now works as a senior manager at Compassion International Uganda, helping to connect others with the programme that changed her life. She said, “There is hope in the fight to eradicate poverty – I have myself as an example for that. The local church knows their community and are able to care for and care about children and families affected by poverty. At the end of the day, a child in poverty needs a safe community around them, that is encouraging them and that is applying relevant holistic support like education, medical treatment and income generation training. Locally-led programs help achieve this.”

In Togo, for instance, as part of the Compassion programme, young people are participating in vocational training workshops such as welding, carpentry and mat weaving as well as life skills training including entrepreneurship, healthy eating and budgeting. Compared to children not enrolled in the Compassion programme, Compassion youth in Togo were 53% more likely to have participated in a formal technical and vocational education and training program and 97% more likely to have participated in a non-formal technical and vocational education and training programme.

Preston said,

The church hasn’t forgotten the poor. In fact, far from it – God’s church is His hands and feet to tackle poverty. Our UK church partners are addressing poverty in their own communities through food banks and warm spaces and also standing shoulder to shoulder with the church across the world, supporting them financially and through prayer.

As the UN states: Poverty and inequality are not inevitable. They are the result of deliberate decisions or inaction that disempower the poorest and marginalised in our societies and violate their fundamental rights. So we need to act. Both through prayer and by a strategic intentional response that empowers the local church around the world.

On International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Compassion UK is encouraging UK Christians to take hope that the Global Church has not forgotten the poor. In fact, the Church is at the very heart of the answer to eradicating poverty.

To learn more about locally-led initiatives lifting people out of poverty, go to: https://www.compassionuk.org/about-us/where-we-work/

Written by: Compassion UK

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