Attitudes to the MDGs are changing - and that's great news

The Gospel compels us to be involved in the sufferings of our world, says Joel Edwards.

I am bound to get lost in a mass of people, high-flying messages and political promises as the world gathers at the United Nations to mark its progress, or lack of it, on the Millennium Development Goals. Are you wondering why I’m feeling smug? I love New York, but that’s not the reason.

It’s not because we are delivering on our promises to the poor, although I do thank God for the real sense of progress over the last decade. There are more kids in full time primary education than ever before; more people rescued from deadly diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. We are even beginning to make a real difference to the number of women who die unnecessarily in childbirth.

Yet in spite of our progress, we are still a marathon behind our target for halving extreme poverty by 2015. So, I am definitely not smug because we are doing well.
But, I am a little smug because attitudes towards the MDGs have changed so much.

When we first conceived Micah Challenge as a Christian response to the MDGs in 2001 there were a few informed voices saying that no one would be talking about the MDGs by 2005! There were also just as many saying that the whole idea was a just a ridiculously naive response to dealing with poverty.

Now I’m grinning because they were wrong! As we head for the Big Apple it feels like the whole world is talking about the MDGs, and despite the deep disappointment with our response to the MDGs, that’s great news.

The more people talk about the MDG promises, the more they become unavoidable political obligations. Who knows, we might end up doing what we all know we can do: halve extreme poverty.

So what will Micah Challenge be doing? Well, as part of the Micah Challenge 10.10.10 campaign we’re helping to host a worship event at the International Salvation Army Headquarters, and are looking forward to catching up our with Haiti national coordinator, Jean-Valery, who’s speaking about the role that church advocacy has had in rebuilding his nation. I’ll blog updates online at The team will tweet at Micah_2010

The church has no option but to plunge itself into the very centre of global events. And we do so because God’s love demands it. The most basic understanding of the gospel and our history compels us to become involved in the sufferings of our world. And that is the point: it is our world! Those of us who think we are cultural islands have no chance! Our mobile phones, laptops, skype calls, overseas holidays and short term missions all testify against us. We belong to everyone else and they belong to us.

So when you read about the UN summit or see glimpses on a TV news report over the next few days, leave cynicism or disengagement behind. Remember to pray about the meetings, that the voices of the poor will be heard above the platitudes of the powerful and get involved in the sufferings of the world so we can meet our promises to the poor.

Rev Joel Edwards is the International Director of Micah Challenge International. Joel travels the globe inspiring the Church to get involved in advocacy with and for the poor as part of their core mission. He will be speaking alongside Micah Challenge’s National Coordinator from Haiti at a Worship Event as part of MC’s 10.10.10 campaign on Sept 20, 7- 9pm at the Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission, 221 East 52nd Street, New York. For more information contact at

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