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Sunday, June 15, 2008

P.E.A.C.E. Plan

Rick Warren says there are five (5) giant problems in the world today – which affect billions of people in every nation. He calls them the “Global Giants.”

Spiritual Emptiness
Billions live without hope, and often in conflict. They don’t know that they’re not an accident. They don’t know that God created them for a purpose and that Jesus Christ died for them so that their past can be forgiven, that they can reach that purpose for living and that they can have an eternal home in heaven.

Self-Serving Leadership
Jesus said leadership is about serving, and if you want to be great, you must learn to be the servant of all. The goal of leadership is not to see how many people help you or what you can get, but rather to see how many people you can help and what you can give.

Extreme Poverty
Half the world lives on less than two dollars a day. Three billion people are in extreme poverty.

Pandemic Diseases
Billions of people are still suffering – and dying from disease that we have cures for. In many cases, these diseases are also preventable (see extreme poverty and self serving leadership above).

Rampant Illiteracy
Half the population of the world – three billion people – are functionally illiterate. That means they cannot read or write well enough to function in modern society.

Warren says that these “giants” loom so large that no one person or organization (including government) can provide significant relief. The United Nations hasn’t been the solution. Governments haven’t. Businesses haven’t. He says that none of these have the advantages that the church has. Warren points out that the church has the biggest distribution system, the most people, and the greatest motivation – love.

So he has developed what he calls the P.E.A.C.E. plan (this guy loves acrostics).

P – Promote reconciliation – to address spiritual emptiness
E – Equip leaders – to address corrupt leadership
A – Assist the poor – to address extreme poverty
C – Care for the sick – to address pandemic diseases and suffering they cause
E – Educate the next generation – to address illiteracy and lack of education

The P.E.A.C.E. plan is a massive effort to mobilize 1 billion Christians around the world – through their local churches – to attack these Global Giants.

Now each church and each individual is able to develop their own projects in the P.E.A.C.E. plan, building on their passions and skills. So a wide variety of things have been popping up. There seem to be common themes though. They look like this:

P – Promote reconciliation – to address spiritual emptiness – has centered on planting churches and para-church ministries to reach the unreached and unchurched.

E – Equip leaders – to address corrupt leadership – has centered on hosting seminars for church and other leaders with curriculum to cast better vision for their role as leaders.

A – Assist the poor – to address extreme poverty – seems to be centering around two themes. First there is temporary assistance for the desperate. It’s short term aid in a crisis, food for the starving, etc. Second, it is a “hand up,” teaching the poor how to be self sufficient and giving them the tools to become self-sufficient.

C – Care for the sick – to address pandemic diseases and suffering they cause – seems to be getting a little less traction because it is more complicated. There are certainly initiatives like medical missions, doctors without borders, etc. But we have not yet seen people at the grass roots level doing much to address preventable diseases by attacking the things that cause them. It will require safe drinking water, safe food, immunizations, education about risky behaviors, etc.

E – Educate the next generation – to address illiteracy and lack of education – seems to be centered on building schools where schools don’t exist for children. Again, this is getting less traction because it is more complicated. We don’t have teachers and mentors for the children. If the parents aren’t educated, then it is harder to educate the children – as there is no assistance from or partnership with the parents. (Many of the uneducated children have no parents!)

Okay, I agree with Rick Warren and I like what's going on so far in mobilizing churches and Christians globally. But I have some suggestions.

Promote reconciliation – certainly we can plant new churches to address spiritual emptiness. We can launch para-church ministries to street gangs, etc. But we can partner with existing organizations that address such issues too. We can see ourselves as peacemakers and engage in reconciliation ourselves. We can make sure our churches are healthy by making solid disciples of the people who attend them. We can make sure our churches are healthy by making sure our own church leaders are healthy.

Equip leaders – we can certainly train leaders better. But the corrupt leadership in the world isn’t corrupt from lack of training. We need to do more. We can start by being more intentional and responsible when we elect leaders at any level of government. We can pray for the leaders who are elected. We can forget the party lines and look for God’s chosen leaders in our governments. We can teach leaders how to fail - and make it okay for them to fail. We can pray for leaders in places where they’re not elected. We can work to hold leaders accountable. We can care about what leaders do. We can know who our leaders are.

Assist the poor – Jesus said, “There will always be the poor among you.” What do you suppose He wants us to do with them then? The Bible is clear that God expects us to help them. We are to sacrifice for them. When was the last time you made a real sacrifice for the poor --- instead of giving out of your excess? We’ll donate our old clothes, donate our old car, and donate our old furniture. But that’s not sacrifice; that’s giving out of our excess. What would it look like if we did more than that? Can you get involved in a micro lending program and risk some of your wealth to lend to the poor? Would you be willing to risk some of your 401K or IRA in such an investment?

Care for the sick – is going to require that we get our hands dirty. The sick are sick and dying from preventable diseases because of ignorance and indifference. Let’s face it. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. There is enough water for everyone. But it’s not in the right places at the right times, and it’s sometimes contaminated. Could we provide clean drinking water to everyone in the world? Yes, technology enables that. But technology costs money. Money requires sacrifice. Clean drinking water, to prevent some curable diseases, cannot be provided out of our excess.

Educate the next generation – will require that we educate ourselves too! We must not be ignorant. We must value education. It seems many of our Asian cultures already value education more than most of us. When is the last time you read a book? When is the last time you read to a child? Can you volunteer with your community’s adult literacy program? Can you donate books to your local library? Would you be willing to become a school teacher? Can you mentor a child to improve their educational chances? Will you work for at-risk teens to keep them in school? Can you teach immigrants English as a second language?

I think Rick Warren has identified the Global Giants clearly. What is less clear to me is that Christians as a whole care enough about this – or are thinking big enough about this.

If we really believe that God, working through ordinary Christians in local churches globally, can save the world --- how big can our thinking get?

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