by Tim Hartman
When you think of the values of Emergent what words to come to mind? Worship? Theology? Church? What about Justice? Much of what has given Emergent its initial impetus has been the process of re-inventing or re-shaping the understanding of the Christian life and of ‘Church’. Meanwhile, many within Emergent have been encouraging us all to consider God’s calling to the poor and to issues of justice in our world.
As a result, I was asked to represent Emergent on the board of Micah Challenge-USA. Micah Challenge is a global Christian campaign with two aims:
- to deepen engagement with the poor;
- to challenge leaders to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and so halve absolute global poverty by 2015.
The name comes from the words of Micah the prophet: “...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” There are Micah Challenge campaigns in over 20 countries worldwide, each of which focuses around the Micah Call:
The Micah Call
This is a moment in history of unique potential,
when the stated intentions of world leaders
echo something of the mind of the Biblical prophets
and the teachings of Jesus concerning the poor, and
when we have the means to dramatically reduce poverty.
We commit ourselves, as followers of Jesus,
to work together for the holistic transformation of our communities,
to pursue justice, be passionate about kindness and to walk humbly with God.
We call on international and national decision-makers
of both rich and poor nations, to fulfill their public promise
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
and so halve absolute global poverty by 2015.
We call on Christians everywhere to be agents of hope
for and with the poor, and to work with others
to hold our national and global leaders accountable
in securing a more just and merciful world.
More than 500 organizations, campaigns and countries worldwide have set their political, religious and cultural differences aside to become one voice united together against extreme poverty under the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP). Micah Challenge is championing the global Christian response. The ONE campaign is invoking action in the US. Make Poverty History is moving people in the UK and Canada. All have the same goals. All want the same result.
All of these groups desire the fulfillment of all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—which were agreed to by all member nations of the UN and all the world’s leading development institutions—by the target date of 2015.
Specifically, the 8 goals of the MDGs are:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.
The MDGs have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. To achieve the MDG’s, GCAP has four goals:
- More and better aid
- Debt cancellation
- Trade justice
- National-level action
Micah Challenge—USA is an aspect of the national level action. It is a collaborative effort among a number of organizations including: World Vision, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, Sojourners, and others. Emergent was invited to partner with these organizations—across denominational and political boundaries—to work on a global campaign to help those in developing nations. Sure there have been the awkward moments, such as responding to questions of whether my “organization” can endorse such-and-such. (How does “a growing generative friendship” officially endorse anything?) The way for Emergent to take the Micah Challenge is for each of us—as individuals and communities to sign the Micah Call (click here to sign the call) and to implement various action steps in our specific contexts. Through this post, I want to invite you and your communities to take the Micah Challenge. Together we can raise awareness, encourage our government to make the necessary changes and implement the appropriate policies to impact the condition of global poverty, and transform the situations for poor and marginalized peoples in our own settings.
I encourage you to take a moment to consider how you and your community can respond to the Micah call and help the global campaign against poverty. We who live in the way of Jesus have a particular responsibility to the poor and to speak prophetically about the place of the poor in our world.
Here are some web links for more information on the Micah Challenge and ways that you and your community can become involved and start working towards justice near and far:
- www.micahchallenge.org (the official global website)
- www.micahmorphosis.org (great site with lots of resources)
- www.whiteband.org (homepage of GCAP)
- www.one.org (the US arm of GCAP)
- www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ (official UN site for the MDGs)