Ban tells church not to underestimate its power

UN Secretary General tells Christians they are "good allies" in the fight to end global poverty.

|PIC1|UNITED Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has told Christian leaders that he needs the anti-poverty movement Micah Challenge as an ally in the ongoing battle to end global poverty.

Mr Ban, speaking at a meeting of international Micah Challenge leaders and America's National Association of Evangelicals, described Christians around the world as "good allies" in the fight against poverty.

Micah Challenge is a global movement of churches, Christians and Christian organisations united to campaign for an end to poverty, and to see the fulfilment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr Ban said: "2008 should be a year of new directions. The United Nations can and must do better. We cannot do it alone. We need good allies such as you. We need the National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge and others in the faith community to help be a voice to the voiceless people."

He added, "Your engagement can push governments to push through on their commitments. Do not underestimate your power. With faith and the will we can make a difference."

Christian Today editor Maria Mackay, attending the meeting in Arlington, Virginia, reports that the comments from the Secretary General are even more meaningful, coming as they do, just days before churches across the world stand up against poverty issues on Micah Sunday, and his support will further encourage churches to speak out.

During the meeting leaders were told about the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - promises made by world leaders in the year 2000 to alleviate poverty by 2015.

The Rev Joel Edwards, head of the UK Evangelical Alliance and chair of the global Micah Challenge movement, was among the top Christian leaders at the meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

He told Christian Today: "To actually have the Secretary General of the UN saying that Micah Challenge is regarded as a serious and critical partner in the enterprise to reduce absolute poverty is just great news.

"World governments are realising that they cannot ignore the church in the battle to eradicate poverty. Micah Challenge is in a unique position to bring together some of the expertise within the Christian world and to work positively with governments to end extreme poverty."

On Micah Sunday on 14 October, churches across the UK will hold themed services and urge Christians to write to the British Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, calling for immediate action on poverty, and in particular measures to halt the spread of HIV and Aids.

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