November 28, 2022
As a denomination-wide agency of The United Methodist Church (UMC), The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) addresses issues at both a domestic level in the United States of America as well as throughout the world.
Among these issues is the priority area of Hunger and Poverty which we address through partnerships with those that have similar concerns.
During these first two months of my internship, I have had the opportunity to participate in meetings with a United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Africa Central Conference Liaison and with the Advocacy Network for Africa (AdNA).
At AdNA, it was heartbreaking to hear about millions of Ethiopians struggling to survive because of a famine caused by ongoing conflict. Through these conversations, I have learned how many factors contribute to global poverty. Peace often is a necessary and vital component, for many to be able to experience financial stability.
In addition to these partnerships, I have also learned about Church & Society’s ongoing work with the United Nations. The first two goals of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals are to “End Poverty,” and “End hunger.” Based on numbers from the World Bank, around 698 million people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 USD per day. More than 20% of the world’s population, about 1.8 billion people, live on less than $3.20 USD per day.
We are guided in this global work through our Social Principles, “the majority of persons in the world live in poverty. In order to provide basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and other necessities, ways must be found to share more equitably the resources of the world…as a church, we are called to support the poor and challenge the rich…we urge support for policies that will encourage equitable economic growth in the Global South and around the world, providing a just opportunity for all.” (2016 Book of Discipline, Social Principles ¶163.E)
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells his disciples; “do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.” However, just before this, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool who tears down his small barns to build larger ones to store more grain and goods for himself. Jesus explains, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So, it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Certainly, if the rich fool did not hoard all these resources for himself, then no one would need to worry whether they would have food the next day. What if instead of focusing on storing up our own wealth, food, and resources, we were to focus on being ‘rich toward God?’ How about we develop a better way to equitably share resources worldwide so that no person or child would have to live so close to death and to wonder if they will have a meal tomorrow? Is that not what God asks of us?