How are we, as Baptists, planning to meet the challenges and suffering of our Baptists around the globe?

To meet this challenge and save the planet for future generations, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) ended in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sept. 4, with Millennium Development Goals to halve world poverty by 2015.

The summit’s theme was People, Planet and Prosperity. The summit was held at four venues in Johannesburg: Nasrac, for NGOs and civil societies; Sandton, for government representatives; Ubuntu, for display and cultural events; and WaterDome, for water and sanitation’s display and discussion.

A plan of action was taken to deliver water, energy, health care, agricultural development and a better environment for the world’s poor. The World Health Organization, United Nations Development Program, World Bank and Oxfam calculated the total cost of implementing Millennium Development Goals. The lowest quote came in at $50 billion and the highest at $100 billion a year. (The UNDP reports that the world spends $780 billion on war and military forces every year. That’s $65 billion a month, or $2 billion a day.)

Rich countries were requested to make “concrete efforts” to increase overseas aid to 0.7 percent of the GDP per year. On the other hand, the developing countries were encouraged to work hard to increase their GDP to 7 percent per year.

A group of diplomats known as “Vienna Process” toiled for eight days over 71 pages of the “Draft Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development,” a document prepared in Bali, Indonesia. This draft plan was adopted by 110 heads of states and 80 senior representatives from 190 countries. The heads of state also issued a separate 37-point paper, called “The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.”

The summit lasted 10 days and was attended by 55,000 people from 190 nations. Each participant used 55 gallons of water per day. About 400 tons of garbage were created and 5 million sheets of paper were used.

Let me confess that over the last 27 years, I have been in touch with the Baptist World Alliance. We spent most of the time of the BWA General Council and BWA Congress in prayers, praise and fellowship. Our deliberation and discussion were almost exclusively limited to evangelism and church planting.

The BWAid reports are full of relief and rehabilitation activities, but we hear very little about poverty reduction, eco-systems, bio-diversity and similar topics. Our African brothers and sisters are combating AIDS, and African sisters are walking 3 kilometers each day to collect water.

How are we, as Baptists, planning to meet the challenges and suffering of our Baptists around the globe? What is the mission and vision of BWAid? I feel it is Kairos time (God’s appointed time) that BWA as a whole should arrange a global conference to meet the issues of 2015.

Jesus challenged the whole gospel to the whole world.

Dennis Datta, a Baptist and member of BWA’s Freedom and Justice Commission, is executive director of Koinonia in Bangladesh.

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