United States (MNN) — Last week, the Trump Administration released a budget blueprint that details the cuts they want to make in the national budget. While it’s just a basic outline and suggestion for Congress, it has raised alarm bells for Christian leaders involved with international aid projects.
The outline proposes a cut to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development by 28 percent, says Christianity Today. According to the news site, foreign aid currently makes up less than one percent of the national budget. Over 100 Christian leaders in the United States from various denominations and aid groups have signed a letter asking Congress to reject the proposal (see that list here).
We spoke with one of the letter’s signatories, Ted Esler. He serves as the president of Missio Nexus which operates at the crossroads of hundreds of ministry organizations and churches doing work around the world.
He says, “Missio Nexus, as a member of a Great Commission community, has quite a few organizational members that are involved in providing relief and development globally.”
Esler says if the budget were approved, it would “directly affect the ministries of quite a few different organizations.”
And while it’s President Trump’s job to put America first, Esler says every action must be carefully considered for the far reaching implications. When we roll every issue, discussion, and situation into one category or bold-lettered cause without stipulation, we will make uninformed decisions.
For example, in this situation, foreign aid organizations and the work they do have a huge impact on how the world views the United States. Organizations like World Relief, he says, have a great global presence and are doing amazing work. The budget cuts could impact their ability to minister as effectively.
Aside from the implications when it comes to reputation, many groups are concerned that restricting foreign aid would cause us to take a step back in our efforts against poverty and starvation.
“I myself was just in South Sudan here a few weeks ago and I saw the food crisis that’s there, anywhere between four and five (and maybe even more) million people. And some of the funding from the United States helps to keep those people alive,” Esler says.
What is our response?
A major and problematic pattern highlighted in this discussion is the tendency for big ideas to engulf and influence much more complicated, delicate issues.
When asked what the Church’s response should be to some of what is taking place, Esler says this:
“Be careful not to generalize.”
In other words, make sure when you’re making up your mind about something, you don’t stop at the big idea. Esler says do as much research as you can. Go to the people who are intimately involved with the topic you’re considering.
With regards to international aid, Esler says, “I think the leaders in the evangelical community who work on these issues, they know the specifics, and that’s why they tend to be more concerned than perhaps the general populace would be.”
Secondly, Esler urges Christians to spend time in Scripture each day, asking God to help them know His heart for the oppressed, the hungry, and the hurting.
Along with this, you can be praying for those who are on the frontlines of social justice battles, especially when it comes to the work being done to spread the Gospel. Humanitarian work is both a model of Christ’s actions and a bridge to share His life-saving message to people all around the world.
You can also “adopt” a region of the world in crisis. Learn about it, keep up-to-date with what’s happening there, and pray. Ask God to make Himself known in this area. Esler says South Sudan and southern Sudan would be good places to begin.
And finally, give. Government funding cuts do not mean that independent groups will go under.
“The U.S. population is extremely generous in private donations to the kinds of programs that are similar in nature to what is going to be cut. Those private programs have done very well over the last 10-15 years. And I would just say, continue to give wholeheartedly.”