Foreign Assistance and the Christian Response

Just a few short months ago, I visited Uganda. There I toured a medical clinic that helped me make some powerful realizations. Food for the Hungry (FH) worked with the community there to build the clinic, as a way to address their biggest obstacles at the time. It started off as a center for women and children who were abducted as child brides into the Lord’s Resistance Army. Later, it transitioned into a maternity ward and HIV/AIDS unit that specialized in preventing the transmission of the disease to infants. FH is preparing to completely hand it off to the local community so that they might continue providing care as we transition out.

My biggest realization in touring this clinic is that it’s considered a beacon of light for the surrounding communities. Families travel from all over to receive the best care there, yet I was certain that my wife would have been horrified if she had to give birth here. It made me consider my privilege as these trips often do. Even the vulnerable populations in the U.S. have access to basic medicine and care that by far exceeds the standards in developing nations. We may not even realize what a privilege it is sometimes.

When children are dying before their fifth birthday because they lack access to basic medical care, food, water, we need to take notice. It’s not ok. Even if those children are citizens of other nations. No one’s need should be overlooked. We are citizens of the world and all deserve to live out our God-given potential.  

A Biblical perspective is better than a nationalistic one.

As I reflect on what it means to be a neighbor, I’m reminded over and over that my definitions are likely more narrow than they should be. Being a neighbor isn’t defined by nations. It doesn’t begin or end with borders and lines drawn in the sand. Your neighbor isn’t one who simply looks like you or lives on the same street. Time and time again, Jesus shows us that our neighbors extend past cultural divides.This is evidenced by the parable of the good Samaritan that you’ve likely heard many times.

Based on Jesus’ example, we should be taking care of our neighbors.

A recent survey found that a good portion of Americans believe that our national budget spends upwards of 26% on foreign aid assistance. The truth is that number is less than 1%. Because so many believe the percentage is high, it feels like a good place to balance a budget. However, it does nothing except cut critical funding to programs that rely on that support to save lives. Such a small amount might seem insignificant, but at FH it’s being matched by donors and being used to create life-giving opportunity around the globe.

We’re not tied to a political ideology, we’re tied to Jesus and His instructions are clear.

All over the world, the U.S. is known and viewed as a compassionate nation. As a country, we are seen as a world power, with that comes a great responsibility. We have an example to set. Also, the whole world is watching to see how generous we are and how we approach goodwill.

Are we allocating our assistance on need alone or are we operating under a quid pro quo?

In the US we have many people who struggle to meet their daily needs, but that shouldn’t mean we aren’t good global citizens as well. We can’t err too far on one side or the other. It would be great for the US to be a leader in compassion, and invite other nations to follow. It’s about recognizing our influence and using that to create a better world. As Christians, I believe we have a responsibility to take care of the poor. However, it shouldn’t matter if they are in our backyard or across the ocean. Additionally, we have the potential to play an invaluable role in stabilizing nations, and creating the possibility of peace. It’s not just about fighting terrorists. It’s personal. When families are economically stable, children are able to stay in school and live with their family. This way they’re not being sold off into slavery.

Be an advocate for the vulnerable.

We are all really busy and have lots of activities on our plate. It makes sense that being an advocate for the poor sometimes isn’t the first thing on our mind. However, we don’t have that luxury. As a global power, and as Christians, we’re called to be advocates for the things that are close to the heart of God. Scripture is filled with places that confirm He has a heart for the poor.

One of the easiest ways you can advocate for the vulnerable is by supporting U.S. foreign assistance. Contacting our lawmakers to share your opinion is easier than ever. Food for the Hungry has even created a simple form that allows you to contact your representative through our website. With the prepopulated letter, you can make your voice heard in a few easy clicks. Write your representative today! 

Photo Credit: Natalia Jidovanu, MTI