Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in This Generation by Scott Todd

Can extreme poverty be ended by 2030? That is only 16 years away, and 1.4 billion people are currently living in extreme poverty. Around 21,000 children die because of poverty every day. Most of the poor are in Africa and Asia. The task of ending poverty may sound impossible to many who were raised with the Bible verse "The poor you will always have with you," but Scott Todd of Compassion International says that these words from Jesus are taken out of context and often used as an excuse for not responding to a Biblical call to service. He explains why effort to end poverty is worthwhile in Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in This Generation.

2030 is not just a randomly chosen year. The date has been set as a goal for ending poverty by the World Bank and endorsed by the United Nations and the Brookings Institute. Prime Minister of Great Britain David Cameron and Microsoft founder Bill Gates both think it can be done.

Why such optimism? In 1981, 52 percent of the earth's population lived in extreme poverty. By 2009, only 21 percent lived in extreme poverty. That is still a lot of people, but there has been great progress. The author cites much evidence showing that international aid to fight poverty has already been very effective. The challenge to eradicate poverty will still require great effort, but Scott Todd believes it can and should be done.

While Hope Rising provides some practical ideas and success stories, it is stronger on spiritual and moral justification. Many of the chapters could be sermons, which is appropriate for a book aimed at faith-based readers. Agnostic readers may find much to encourage them also if they can look beyond the Biblical quotes. The author obviously wants everyone's help, as he describes a vision of governmental, business, and non-corporate campaigns working together. 

Who will pay for ending poverty? We will, joyfully, awaking from our media/entertainment stupor, glad to be alive, serious about making a difference in the future of the planet. Working people who can give will be the inspiration for the billionaires to join, some of whom are already impressed.

Only in the last chapter of Hope Rising does Todd mention donating to his own organization Compassion International. Charity Navigator gives it a high rating, especially for accountability and transparency.Not everyone will be interested in becoming a child sponsor, which Todd suggests as a primary way to help end poverty. Luckily, his book as a whole indicates that there are many other ways to fight poverty.

Todd, Scott. Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in This Generation. Thomas Nelson, 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780529101129.

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