The world celebrates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. 17th October is the date officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly. This day was set aside to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in the poor ones. The call to eradicate poverty has assumed even greater urgency since 1993.
At the OAIC’s we have chosen to respond to this call based on our belief that God created each person with dignity and any situation or thing that takes away this dignity is against the will of God. Our theological foundation is that theology must begin from below and “turn the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)
Based on this belief we look at local and world events, from the point of view of the powerless, the oppressed and those without privilege. We treat the failure or lack of appropriate basic social services for basic education, health care, water and sanitation, as well as hunger, or the lack of decent housing and social security as a major contributor to poverty and indignity of millions.
We celebrate the way we have used the pastoral approach in building church communities where members support each other, and also offer support to people in the wider community. This is evidenced by the acts of mercy towards the sick, vulnerable children, the hungry and homeless who would be in a worse state if we did not care.
However, even with the best pastoral efforts and the work of governmental and non-governmental agencies, the conditions of the poor bring to the surface the unacceptable situations people bear. An indicator for this is why far too many women continue to die while giving birth or while pregnant for causes that are easily avoidable or manageable.
Far too many of our children die because of causes that are avoidable while the number of those among us living in hunger and those that are poorly fed is still very high. Millions have no access to safe drinking water and acceptable sanitation. After giving consideration to our situation and taking care to name what ails us, we are required to respond with the firmness of the prophets of the Old Testament.
We are also required to link our pastoral role with the prophetic role. The prophetic role demands of us to speak clearly about the social, economic and political factors underlying the poverty situations we are observing. We believe that change will come when society redefines abundance and distributes power and resources fairly. Change will come when we raise our voice to the elected political representatives and those in public institutions responsible for the delivery of basic social services.
We are calling upon you to give leadership during period 16-30 October 2011 in mobilizing OAIC member churches and their communities to be part of the global anti-poverty action. We ask you to:
· Commit to prayer and reflection on our pastoral and prophetic role in relation to poverty.
· Raise awareness in churches-at congregation levels on the need for effective service delivery.
· Organize community events where political representatives are invited to listen to the people in relation to access to basic services.
The Spirit of God is speaking loudly about the issue of poverty. Like in the days of prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 22: 1-3), the Spirit of God is saying ‘go and speak to the places where the political leaders sit, in the places where decisions about the wellbeing of are made, the presidents, the MPs, the senators, the councilors and all the officials-public servants-. Tell them that the pregnant mother will receive quality health care and that death in the process of giving life is unacceptable, the infant will not die but grow to maturity, every child will have access to quality education, hunger in our midst is shame to all of us, all people should have access to health care, water and sanitation’. It is time for us to give leadership in the process of mobilizing churches and communities to take action.
10,000 congregations will be participating by mobilizing themselves and the communities around them to raise their voices on the link between lack of basic services and poverty during these two weeks of action.
We thank you for your commitment to be part of this prophetic response to poverty and may the Spirit of God Inspire you and your fellow ministers as we join hands to act prophetically until the indignity of poverty is vanquished.
In the Lord’s service,
Most Rev. Daniel Okoh Rev. Nicta Lubaale
International Chairman General Secretary