If you have visited The Nerdy Bookworm before, you have probably noticed the links along the sidebar to various charities, such as a Show Hope and Compassion. If you know me personally, you know that I believe we can do incredible things in our world, by the Grace of God, for the Glory of God.
That is why the tagline of Scott Todd’s Hope Rising, captured my attention: “How Christians can end Extreme Poverty in this Generation”. What an incredible goal!
Encouraging Christians to take action, to work for a world where extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 a day) is a thing of the past, Todd reminds us that faith is not merely intellectual, but also active (James 2:14-17).
While I applaud Todd for his passion for children and families living in extreme poverty, I believe he lost focus and floundered in the writing of Hope Rising. With a writing style that was at times disjointed and repetitive, it was the solution to extreme poverty that he offered which concerns me the most.
Throughout Hope Rising, Todd emphasises the government’s moral obligation to contribute financially in aiding those who are living in extreme poverty, even suggesting that at least 10% of our national budget should be allocated for foreign aid (p.127). However, there are some obvious issues with this plan:
1) You can’t give what you don’t have. As Americans, we currently have a national debt of more than $17 trillion. What good is it to give foreign aid when we can’t even pay our own bills?
2) Foreign Aid is not unbiased. As we have seen with the Affordable Care Act, Americans have a wide range of personal opinions and moral convictions. Will everyone be satisfied with how the Government disperses Foreign Aid?
3) It isn’t the Government’s job. This is the primary objection. From Scripture we see that it is the Government’s job to enforce justice (Romans 13:4). Government’s role in society is to defend and encourage the good, and punish the evil (WSC 23:1), not to bring an end to world poverty!
Todd even has quotes in Hope Rising from those who believe government-funded Foreign Aid is detrimental, causing more harm than good, yet he shrugs off their concerns because he believes this is our opportunity as Christians to be advocates for the poor (p. 132-135). While he also encourages Christians to work to end extreme poverty through business and church, even noting that Africans trust churches more than governments (p.147), it is disheartening that Todd pushes for more government-funded Foreign Aid.
Hope Rising is a reminder that we live in an amazing time, where we see a fast-approaching future where extreme poverty is no more. We live in a time where corporations like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Google, Levi Strauss, Macy’s, and TOMS have joined the effort, donating funds for fighting poverty, gender inequality, and sex trafficking. We live in a time where shoppers are concerned with buying Fair Trade products and supporting businesses like Claro, FEED, 3Strands, and 31Bits, where they know their money will help farmers receive fair wages, women are empowered, and children are fed and educated.
But what we as Christians don’t need to forget, and what I believe Hope Rising failed to emphasize, is that food and clean water, health care and education are not, and will never be, what those who live in extreme poverty (and those of us who don’t) need the most. Our primary goal as Christians should be to share Living Water and Bread of Life (John 4:13-14; John 7:37-38; Matthew 4:4; John 6:35; John 6:48).
Overall, I found Hope Rising to be both encouraging and frustrating. I would give Hope Rising a “C”.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.