Christians Relieve Debts of Poor Countries

Christians around the world are walking toward Pentecost and are observing the year of Jubilee as the two hold similar meaning, in efforts to reinforce fairer global economy.

According to the Voice, Christian research center, Pentecost was originally an Old Testament festival, the fiftieth day after the beginning of Passover. In the Christian calendar, it falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It was called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and in the Old Testament was originally an agricultural festival celebrating and giving thanks for the "first fruits" of the early spring harvest (Lev 23, Exod 23, 34).

Similarly, the year of Jubilee, was an Old Testament celebration that occurred only once after 50 years. After this year of Jubilee all Israelites who were kept as slaves were set free, people in debt were completely relieved from debts, and all land that had been sold reverted to its original owner. It was truly the year of “liberation.”

In keeping with this tradition, the Jubilee Debt Campaign, based in the UK, has organized the first World Debt Day with people from all faiths and backgrounds to mark the achievements to double the levels of debt relief, May 16.

The primary goal of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, is to liberate the people the poorest countries from the heavy burden of debt and to have the future financial arrangements between the rich and poor nations based on fairness, accountability, and transparency.

It has been reported by the campaigners that in 1999, G8 countries took action to cancel some of the debts of developing countries but their efforts didn’t help the countries to build infrastructure. As a result people from the poor countries continue to be deprived of basic needs such as clean water, equipped hospitals, and schools.

Methodist President of Conference Rev Dr Neil Richardson said: "World Debt Day on May 16th is a reminder that one of the great moral challenges of our time is the struggle for a fairer global economy."

Richardson explained; "Many of the poorest countries in the world carry a crushing burden of debt. The world's richest countries live at their expense. The Jubilee Debt Campaign, therefore, deserves our support in their attempt to end this injustice. I urge Christians of all traditions, in the light of the Bible's 'bias to the poor', to give this campaign all the help they can, and I pray God's blessing upon it."

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs for The Methodist Church, added; "The accumulation of debt in Highly Indebted Poor Counties has built up over a period of years in a large part due to global economic trends that have adversely affected fragile economies. That this debt should still burden these countries, creating a drag on development, is an injustice."

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) supports development partners in a number of countries, such as Ethiopia, Cameroon and Senegal, that continue to be burdened by debt.

Vivian S. Park
Ecumenical Press