Across the globe, men, women, and children live in unimaginable poverty, without access to clean water, healthful foods, or warm clothing. Diseases ravage nations without access to adequate medical facilities or basic healthcare. Many lack the sanitation services needed to stop normally preventable, treatable illnesses from striking their communities. Natural disasters are worldwide phenomena. Almost 800 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger and roughly 1 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty. According to the World Bank, as of 2012, 12.7% of the world survives on $1.90 a day or less. Many of these people are difficult to reach, living in remote areas or in precarious political climates.
Just as American faith-based groups provide essential services to those at home, many also extend their reach around the world. The services they provide offer both compassion for those in need and serve to advance the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States by alleviating deprivation, poverty, and providing hope in areas of extreme strife.
When local governments and agencies do not have the resources to help their citizens obtain food, clean water, shelter or education, a wide range of American congregations and faith-based organizations step in to do just that. The southern Baptist community mobilizes people and financial resources to alleviate suffering worldwide. Congregations have worked with Christian groups in West Africa to train communities on Ebola response in rural areas, in an effort to halt the spread of the devastating disease. They are also providing resources to Syrian refugees to help get children back in school. Congregations are providing students with backpacks, and teachers with classroom assistance and school supplies so students have the resources they need to learn, and can in turn make their communities better for generations to come.
When local governments and agencies do not have the resources to help their citizens obtain food, clean water, shelter or education, a wide range of American congregations and faith-based organizations step in to do just that.
In April of 2015, more than 30 leaders from different world religions and faith-based organizations issued a call to action, with the goal of ending extreme poverty across the planet by 2030. Though these religious leaders hail from different faiths, with different belief systems, they all share a moral consensus that extreme poverty stifles human dignity and have pledged their commitment to its eradication. They hope to tackle preventable illnesses, chronic joblessness, and discrimination. They are fighting for a world where women and girls have an equal access to education and where human rights are paramount. Because more than 8 in 10 people across the globe identify with a religious group, religious leaders are using this global sense of faith to empower world citizens to fight poverty alongside each other.
Other organizations have delivered food, medicine, and other assistance to alleviate suffering around the world, for several decades. Through one organization, doctors have provided life-saving operations to more than one thousand children from impoverished or war-torn nations, including Bosnia, Uganda, and Bolivia. They work with hospitals and doctors around the world, arranging for children, a guardian, and a translator to travel to these hospitals to obtain care that is not available to them in their home countries. They locate Christian churches and families to serve as hosts, who in turn help provide food, housing, transportation, and other amenities to the visiting group. This network of doctors, families, and hospitals provide life-changing treatment, giving children abroad a second chance at normal lives.
Other organizations operate children’s ministries to provide new beginnings to the most vulnerable across the globe, children without homes or families. In 2010, an earthquake devastated Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and many more homeless. Orphanages were reduced to rubble, leaving children to fight for survival in their ruins. In 2012 a home and school, operated on the foundation of the Gospel, was constructed and has welcomed 60 children, many without families, and others in situations so dire it is unsafe to return home, to live, be children, and get an education taught in French, Creole, and English. Between 2010 and 2012 following the earthquake, faith-based organizations have also distributed more than 15,000 shelters, drilled 18 permanent wells, built 193 permanent latrines, and distributed roughly 13,000 metric tons of food. They continue to provide relief, health [care], and children’s services to struggling adults and children in Haiti, improving living conditions and providing educations to those most in need. This is of critical importance for a nation where over half of food aid is distributed through religious organizations with boots on the ground.
Other organizations share a mission of affirming God’s love for all. One Lutheran organization partners with other Lutherans and organizations worldwide in a fight to end poverty and human suffering. In working with local partners on a variety of life changing causes, including developing long-term solutions to poverty, these ministries are able to address rural financing and food scarcity by supporting nearby small scale farmers. They provide access to small grants to farmers and cooperatives to be used like loan funds, establishing local savings systems for small-scale farmers. Through coffee and cocoa initiatives, small producers are gaining the ability to capture a portion of the global markets. In Honduras, Lutheran outreach groups are helping farmers improve their knowledge about cocoa production through farmer field schools and through training and technical assistance. These services are aimed at increasing their volumes of cocoa production that are in line with market standards, and give farmers greater access to market information. This increased access allows small-scale farmers to support their families and communities and helps them gain access to the tools they need to meet the high standards of a competitive industry.