Church history in general, and the history of pietistic, Evangelical, and pious streams of faith have been deeply characterized by ever new Christian movements bringing hope for all layers of society and acting as particular advocates for victims of sin, regardless of whether it was their own sin, the sin of others, or collective sins. One can think, for instance, of the Evangelical anti-slavery movement, Methodism, the Salvation Army, diaconate mother abbies, the Blue Cross or the Black Cross and prison and rehabilitation ministries. Christians have for instance become engaged around the world in the fight against alcoholism and drug addiction and have not shirked the painstaking work of offering the victims – whether they are themselves guilty or not or somewhere in between – opportunities for rehabilitation that might take years. It would appear clear that for the cause of global development there are opportunities to be like Jesus and offer hope to each individual wherever they are in the world, regardless of how many other people have written them off.
I recently published a German book together with Kurt Bangert of World Vision entitled HIV/AIDS as a Christian Challenge (HIV/AIS als christliche Herausforderung). Efforts against HIV and AIDS, for those who have contracted AIDS as well as for those who are AIDS victims in the broadest sense, is nothing other than action against other social and medical catastrophes encountered in the past, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, blindness, and incarceration.
The German book The Fight against Poverty (Der Kampf gegen Armut), which has just been released, is an endeavor of the Evangelical Alliance that I have published with Andreas Kusch. It is a type of theological justification and reflection on the Micah Initiative and in the process takes up a matter similar to the aforementioned book.
The Old Testament role models of faith are found in Joseph and Daniel, who helped their countries and cultures and saved many lives. Joseph drafted a gigantic program that saved the lives of the Egyptians and others, although they believed in another god. Joseph and Daniel did not wait until the world around them corresponded to what they as god-fearing people desired to see. Rather, they won the respect of everyone, because they became involved for all people – though not in a way that led them to compromise their faith in the one true Creator and Savior.
Our task as Christians is not to wait for a world which pleases us more or to get the world into a manageable shape before we do something. Rather, we are to act in the world as we find it here and now, proclaim the love of our God, and concretely bear witness to it at that point.
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