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Published on 16 September, 2005

Evangelical leaders declare war on global hunger at Poverty Summit.

USA (MNN)–Government leaders are in New York for the United Nations World Summit this week. They’re hashing out on an international anti-poverty agreement.

At the same time, evangelical leaders have gathered for a summit. Rich Stearns, President of World Vision, says hunger runs hand in hand with poverty, especially in a year where unprecedented disasters have occurred. “We are trying to say that the faith community very much supports eliminating or reducing global poverty in dramatic ways. We’re calling on our leaders, both our church leaders and our elected officials to do their part to support these efforts to reduce poverty.”

Believers met for a three-day prayer and advocacy campaign to overcome global poverty. The campaign, which ends today with a closing celebration, features prayer vigils, summit briefings, sermons, worship services and Labyrinth Walks.

Those involved hope their statement will impact governments to increase their commitments to the poor. They are asking for U.S. leaders to increase aid by 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget. That’s roughly $25 billion dollars over the next half a decade.

This is the second time that religious leaders have timed a summit to coincide with an international-scale gathering of leaders.

Many of those involved have tackled multiple problems leading to poverty through their work. For some, it’s a matter of combining ministry and community development. For others, it’s flat-out evangelism.

For World Vision, their work is more than a social gospel, Stearns says. “It opens up tremendous opportunities to talk to people about their spiritual situation. When you are sharing somebody’s grief, when you’re crying with a mother that has lost her child, or crying with a child that’s lost her mother, there’s a tremendous opportunity to talk to them about spiritual things and about the comfort that we have in Christ.”

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