There’s an immediate satisfaction in knowing you’ve helped a poor person in a crisis, said a Baptist ethicist, but nobody can do that every day.
“That’s why I think development is even more exciting than relief,” said Joe Haag of the Baptist General Convention Christian Life Commission.
Haag appeared in “Always … Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty,” a DVD and online study guide from the Baptist Center for Ethics designed to educate and empower Baptists to respond to global poverty.
“There is a disaster happening every day,” Haag said. “It’s just that it doesn’t get news coverage as such. So we just like to tell people that if you’re concerned about disasters, think about the disaster that is going on silently, all the time, right in front of you. And that is the disaster of thousands of children, for example, dying every day because they are hungry.”
Haag applauded Baptist efforts in disaster relief. “It’s a wonderful thing that people respond that way,” he said. “Our job is to try and help people see there is a disaster happening around us all the time that the news just doesn’t cover.”
Unlike relief, which is delivered to meet emergency needs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, development work can last years or even decades, said Alistair Brown of BMS World Mission.
“The world organized the deal with the aftermath of the tsumani of 2004,” Brown said. “Somewhere upwards of 150,000 died in that tsunami. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 die every month in sub-Saharan Africa. We need to be as concerned about the ongoing poverty and its consequences for the world as ever we were about one massive event that captures world headlines.”
“I think at times we tend to forget those who have been hungry for years and years and years,” added Paul Montacute of Baptist World Aid, “because it’s easier to focus on the now. I think we feel there’s something we can do about the now that we can’t necessarily do about the longer-term thing. But if we can begin to get to grip with the longer-term needs of people who are chronically hungry in the world, then we are in fact cutting back substantially on the number of hungry people in our world.”
“Always … Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty” is directed and produced by Cliff Vaughn, culture editor for EthicsDaily.com and a documentary filmmaker.
The 28-minute film includes footage and photographs of hunger relief and development efforts, as well as interviews with Baptists addressing global poverty.
Accompanying the DVD is an online, four-session Bible study with separate student’s and leader’s guides. The DVD can be viewed independently or in tandem with the Bible study sessions.
The DVD and online study guide were underwritten in part by Baptist General Association of Virginia; Baptist General Convention of Missouri; Baptist General Convention of Texas; Baptist World Aid; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma; First Baptist Church Endowment Fund, Richmond, Va.; Faith Baptist Church, Georgetown, Ky.; First Baptist Church, Griffin, Ga.; First Baptist Church, San Angelo, Texas.; First Baptist Church, Wilmington, N.C.; and St. Matthews Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.