This week, the heads of the world’s leading industrialized nations, including President Bush, are making important decisions that could put the world on the road to ending chronic hunger, extreme poverty and addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as global climate change. The commitments from the G8 leaders prior to the upcoming summit have created an air of optimism for a convergence of truly decisive and meaningful action. Included here are the voices of some people of faith who are pushing for a comprehensive plan of debt relief, development aid, and fair trade policies and reducing hunger, poverty and disease, particularly in Africa.
“We can end hunger and extreme poverty in our time,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Like the prophet Isaiah, this message is like a hot ember on my lips. I am compelled to speak it. We have the technology and resources to end this extreme human suffering. All we lack is the political will to do it.” To help build that will, Bread for the World sent 25 grassroots members from across the United States to the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to be a part of the ONE Campaign delegation there. “These ordinary American citizens, from Memphis, TN, to Waco, TX, to Los Angeles, CA, were motivated by their faith to travel to the G8 and advocate for more and better aid from the world’s wealthiest nations. They are calling for a comprehensive plan that includes aid, debt relief and fair trade so their sisters and brothers in the developing world can build decent lives.”
“It’s a little bit like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness,” said Marie Bledsoe-Frasure, a community redevelopment leader from Kansas City, KS. “The trip is a statement to the world that we are all lifting up our voices in unity to shout the message that the time is now for action. There is strength in our many voices, at one table with the same message. It’s no longer them and us. It’s just us, together – inclusive of the world’s most vulnerable children, youth and their families.”
“I'm pleased to participate in this opportunity if I can in any way help to build the momentum for change,” said Kathy Gerking, the missions director of the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Iowa City, IA. “I believe that apathy is one of the deadliest lurking sins in our present circumstances, and much of it stems from a lack of hope that these circumstances can actually change. Jesus' passion and death and resurrection show to all that there is hope – hope for all people. God works through people to bring light and hope, and we all get to be a part of that.”
Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners and Convener of Call to Renewal, coordinated a meeting of faith leaders in the United States and the United Kingdom at Lambeth Palace in London before the G8. The leaders issued a statement calling on the political leaders at the G8 to do more to help those in developing nations. Wallis said, "God is acting among us as religious leaders and faith communities, drawing us together as never before across theological and political boundaries in a moral, spiritual and biblical convergence. God is acting through new leadership in Africa where democracies are taking responsibility and acting in new ways to end corruption and create more transparent governance that makes effective aid more possible. God is acting through the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations – the G8. We are here at an historic moment of great opportunity, and the world needs a real breakthrough."