What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
American Children Still Hungry?
Failure of “War on Poverty” is everyone’s failure
By Dr. Tom Askew
World Vision Executive Romanita Hairston grabbed the attention of attendees at the recent Movement Day, a Christian conference in New York City. In dynamic terms, Hairston brought to the conference floor these statistics from 2013, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty
- 16 percent of the U.S. population is struggling to survive
- 20 percent of U.S. children live in poverty
Most compelling was Hairston’s contrast of U.S. technological advances with these statistics. “If one were to look at how America cares for its children, it would tell us a lot about who we are as a nation...If child well-being was a military issue, the red phone would be off the hook,” she stated. “We would be at nuclear stage four. If child well-being was an economic issue, we would be calling for a bailout.”
Christian Post reporter Nicole Menzie observed, “Hairston's remarks and shared statistics on how low the United States ranks when it comes to the well-being of its more than 73 million children (based on 2013 figures) prompted gasps and knowing grunts from her audience. Her words of encouragement on how to help address the issue also received a few amens.”
Failure of “War on Poverty”
The timing of Hairston’s speech could not have been more dramatic: exactly fifty years after President Lyndon made these remarks before Congress:
“... We have never lost sight of our goal — an America in which every citizen shares all the opportunities of his society. Because it is right, because it is wise, and because, for the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty …”
Fifty years later, a UNICEF report that ranks child well-being in wealthy countries places the Unites States number 26 on a list that includes 29 countries. The U.S. ranked just below Estonia, Slovakia and Greece. Factors taken into account included material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks, and housing and environment. The highest the U.S. placed in any of these categories was number 23.
Where is the solution?
Is this exposure of the failure of the “War on Poverty” an indictment of attempts to solve spiritual problems with centralized government antidotes, entrusting taxation income to the hands of bureaucrats? Hairston correctly identifies the only realistic solution. “We need Gospel movements in our cities that transform our current realities,” said Hairston after sharing more alarming statistics on poverty, education and health. “It is not only practical and logical, it is our moral, ethical and biblical responsibility.”
She added, “City movements that could transform neighbors and people's lives are indeed possible. It is not more difficult today than it has been in the past. It is actually probable, more possible that it has ever been. I still agree with President Johnson.”
Can the church make a difference?
It has been well demonstrated in recent studies that, when compared to other Americans, church-going folks are pretty generous. A report by The Barna Group finds that 79 percent of evangelical Christians gave money to a church or charity last year, while 65 percent donated items and 60 percent volunteered their time. Only one percent of evangelicals say they donated nothing at all, which beats the national rate (13 percent) and the rate among those who claim no faith at all (25 percent).
A brief survey of the list of community organizations which serve the poor in Tucson, Arizona, for example, reveals many individual congregations, as well as organizations supported primarily by Christians: Gospel Rescue Mission, Community Food Bank, Interfaith Community Services, Caring Ministries, Salvation Army Hospitality House, and others. However, only eighteen percent of Arizona residents identify themselves as evangelical Christians.
It’s a heart problem
The problem is not just in the hearts of the “haves,” as opposed to the “have nots.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), not just the wealthy. Some poverty may be the result of a corrupt system; but it can also be the product of sloth, a sin the Bible repeatedly admonishes against. “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep; and an idle person will suffer hunger.” (Proverbs 19:15)
That’s why Romanita Hairston says the nation needs a “Gospel Movement.”
- repentance from covetousness and greed
- repentance from blame-casting and self-righteousness
- repentance from idleness and self-victimization
- repentance from corruption among those in power
- the preaching of the Gospel for renewal of hearts and minds
Dr. Tom Askew has been an educator in both public and private schools for over forty years, in both the U.S. and overseas. He is currently doing educational consulting and instruction for Christian schools in Arizona.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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