The Millennium Development Goals - the challenge to faith and action

by Rev Lawrence Temfwe.

In 2000, the United Nations agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals were intended to meet widespread human needs. Micah Challenge aims to mobilise the church to take part in fulfilling these goals.

Micah Challenge is a global movement of Christians who seek to speak out, with a common voice, against the injustices of poverty. Micah Challenge is working within the evangelical church to reverse a lack of commitment to the marginalised. Though well aware of the challenges of poverty, HIV, malaria and unemployment, many Christians do not include social justice as part of their witness to the world. Too often, our spiritual life begins and ends with our own salvation. But what if Christians, mobilised by a vision of God's mercy and justice, began to call upon national leaders on behalf of the needy?

The question we must face now is not whether to respond to the need before us, but how. We must clarify what God wants all of us to do as individuals, churches, communities, farmers, businesses and governments. In what specific ways can we help to bring safety, peace and plenty (Isaiah 65:17-25) in our own communities and other nations? How can the worldwide church work together to achieve God's purposes?

Perhaps we may consider the church's response in Chibuluma, Zambia. Within this community of 11,000, 90% live on less than $1 per day. In Chibuluma, evangelist George Mamunye shares this story of hope with us:

'Micah Challenge is one of the major spiritual and social developments of the 2000s. Two years ago Micah Challenge conducted a workshop for 60 church and community leaders in Chibuluma. At this meeting the leaders were introduced to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and to the commit-ment that the Zambian government had made to end extreme poverty.

As the meeting progressed, the leaders were reminded that their expression of concern for addressing poverty is a demonstration of our mandate to be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-16). God is just, merciful and righteous, so naturally we should bear witness to His character. At the end of the meeting the leaders agreed their greatest local challenge was maternal services, but they did not know what to do next. Surely their voice would not be heard by the government, and they were too poor to raise resources on their own to build a maternity ward for expectant mothers. The situation seemed hopeless.

At this point the staff of Micah Challenge explained what the Bible says about power. Finally the attendees took courage and wrote a letter to Zambia's Ministry of Health requesting that the government build a maternity ward and increase the number of staff. Though fearful that the government could have seen their action as a political reaction rather than a genuine concern by the community for better health services, they still took a step of faith and wrote the letter anyway. The result was incredible - the government responded favourably!'

At the time of writing, the contractor has laid foundations for a building that will include a delivery room, waiting room, out-patient room, showers, toilets and a maternity ward with ten beds. The church in Chibuluma has experienced an important truth that we may consider in our own response to needs around us. We bring real hope in our communities only when we are willing to risk feeling uncomfortable in order to try something new. When spiritual faith and works, evangelism and social action, leadership and servanthood are combined, we can lay foundations for spiritual and material prosperity. This is what Micah Challenge is all about!

Rev Lawrence Temfwe is Executive Director of the Jubilee Centre in Zambia and National Facilitator of Micah Challenge Zambia.

Websites: www.jubileecentre.org   www.mczambia.wordpress.com

Micah Challenge has national campaigns in 40 countries. To contact your national coordinator, visit www.micahchallenge.org