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Column #1,364  Oct. 17, 2007
Evangelicals Embrace Global Millennial Goals
by Mike McManus

Evangelicals, who comprise a quarter of Americans, are deeply committed to Christ. Yet only half bother to vote.  This neglect is contrary to Scripture's call for men and women to have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:27-28).

To awaken evangelical's commitment to public life - particularly to serve the world's poor and hungry,  the National Association of Evangelicals representing 45,000 churches hosted a "Global Leaders Forum" last week.

NAE took a daring plunge into world issues by inviting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be  keynote speaker. A Fox poll recently found that evangelicals have a 2-1 negative view of the UN.  NAE Vice President Richard Cizik, who invited Ban, is a gutsy guy.  A year ago, he orchestrated a major NAE statement on climate change, prompting prominent evangelicals such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to call for his being fired.

That was never a danger, because Cizik led NAE to adopt a major position paper, "An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" which has moved the organization to take stands on such new issues as sexual trafficking.

Cizik introduced the UN Secretary General as "a Christian man" from South Korea.  Ban said that while the U.N. "stands outside of all confessions of faith, it is nevertheless an instrument of faith, inspired by what unites the great religions of the build peace by making swords into plowshares, dedicated to help the poor, aid victims of famine and disease and to protect human rights."

He quoted Isaiah 58:10: "If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness."

Ban noted that in 2000, 189 nations voted for a compact among nations, pledging to achieve eight development goals by 2015.  These "Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, are specific achievable targets.

For example, the first MDG is to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger." When the goal was set, 1.5 billion people lived on less than $1 a day. Today, half way to the 2015 deadline, 500 million people have seen their incomes rise above that level, encouraging progress.

Ban also praised the fact "more children than ever are going to school and that child mortality has declined" - two other goals.  Yet 100 million elementary-aged children are not in school and one girl in four does not make it past 5th grade.

On another MDG, to combats HIV/AIDS, America is spending billions to help, yet the number becoming infected is growing six times faster than the patients being helped.  There are 12 million orphans whose parents died of AIDS.

"I am deeply concerned that in Sub-Saharan Africa there is no single country on track," to the goals said Ban. "It is intolerable that half a million women died from complications of child birth and pregnancy and that 10 million children die each year before their fifth birthday."

What can be done? "We need good allies like you, the National Association of Evangelicals, to give voice to the voiceless.  Our engagement can push governments to follow through on their commitments." Ban noted that the world's developed countries pledged $50 billion by 2010, "but very little has been delivered."

"A world with a billion people living on less than a dollar a day can not be just nor stable."

The next day, 220 evangelicals from around the world met in workshops to explore what might be done to breathe hope into such large global issues. Cizik told attendees: "What evangelicals can do is help people come through a huge intellectual shift on every level. We as Americans will have to change the ways we think if we are to win on such issues as climate and poverty."

In one session, I was stunned to hear a Pakistani Christian tell about Muslims attacking two Christian villages of 50,000 people, burning many homes and 13 churches in one day.

Why is the torture of Christians on the increase? Because Muslims read of Americans torturing Muslim prisoners.

The Pakistani Christian, brought by NAE to this meeting posed a haunting question. "If this is a holy war, and if you are a follower of Christ, do you know how to fight a holy war? Muslims are saying, `In the next 50 years, we will capture the Western world. Our love for death is greater than our love for life.'"

He urged Americans to pray and to realize that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. Believe in the power of the Gospel.  The spread of the Gospel is the solution." Yet he risks his life daily in doing so.

Evangelicals can not ignore such heroes of the faith.

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