BMS World Mission, the oldest Baptist mission-sending body, has joined an international coalition of evangelical relief-and-development organizations to reduce global poverty by half within the next decade.
“BMS does not limit itself to dealing with the symptoms of poverty and oppression, but aims to address the causes as well,” said the organization’s official statement of support for the movement known as the Micah Challenge. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
A British-based mission board, BMS World Mission personnel and partner organizations serve in over 30 nations. They engage in church planting, education and disaster relief.
“I think the responsibility of those who have so much is to take sides with those who have so little, to be a voice for the voiceless, to act for the powerless,” said <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Alistair Brown, BMS general director, describing the decision to endorse the Micah Challenge.
“Those who suffer the most deprivation—the victims of unfair trading conditions for example—don’t have a powerful voice,” Brown said. “But we do have a powerful voice and we can at least challenge some practices and hopefully see things change.”
“There is evidence that this sort of campaign really does change policies,” he said. “It makes a real difference to people who probably don’t even know we’re speaking for them. But we must do it. It is part of bringing God’s love to bear on those situations.”
The BMS World Mission decision followed the adoption of a resolution supporting the Micah Challenge at the General Council meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in late July in Seoul, South Korea.
The Micah Challenge takes its names from Micah 6:8, a biblical passage describing God’s desire for justice, mercy and humility.
The campaign’s goal is to mobilize the Christian community to hold their governments accountable for their promises to achieve the United Nation’s millennial development goals, which include the provision of universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, combating AIDS/HIV and ensuring environmental sustainability.
British and Australian Baptists are at the forefront of the leadership of the Micah Challenge, which launched officially in October.
David Coffey, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Britain and president-elect of the Baptist World Alliance, promised delegates at the BWA general council meeting that he would work with others to “make poverty history.”
Michael Smitheram is Micah Challenge’s international coordinator and a member of Canberra Baptist Church in Melbourne, Australia.
Other Australian Baptist leaders are Les Fussell, national director of Baptist World Aid Australia, and Gwyn Milne, national president of the Baptist Union of Australia.
BMS World Mission traces its founding the Baptist Missionary Society started by William Carey, the English cobbler and school teacher, in 1792.