Blog post by E4 Project staff member Paul Schultz.

Last week we took a look at the first step in the E4 Process — Educate.  This week we are going to look at the second step — Engage.  This is the step where we work to connect people throughout the world to defend the cause of the poor and needy.

We strive to build servant-minded relationships with people who are already serving and working in their own communities to the glory of Christ and His kingdom to come.  This is where our engage piece comes in.  It is our goal at E4 to be connectors of people from both the west and the developing world. We create partnerships and relationships with like-minded people who are striving for the same positive change in communities. Each of us has a role to play in the efforts to alleviate poverty, and it is best done together in relationship with local church leaders and organizations.

Looking at the problem of poverty can seem overwhelming.  After all, what can one person really do?  Especially, when it seems like a lot of us are working hard just to get by?  Before we look into what one person could do we need to take some time to shift our perspective.  Richard Sterns in The Hole in Our Gospel shares some startling statistics.

  • If you make $50,000 per year you are in the top 1% in the world
  • If you own a car you are in the top 7%
  • Total income of American churchgoers is about $6.5 trillion
  • Just 1% of their income would lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty
  • American Christians make up just 5% of the Church worldwide and control about half of global Christian wealth
  • Average giving of American church members in 2011 was only 2.3% of their income.  In 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, giving averaged 3.3%
  • Just 2% of all the money received by churches goes overseas

Richard Sterns summarizes the situation by saying that, “The bottom line is that the commitment that American Christians, the wealthiest Christians in all history, are making to the world is just 2% of 2% — actually about five ten-thousandths of our income.  In simpler terms, that amounts to about six pennies per person per day that we give through our churches to the rest of the world — six cents!”

In other words, we can and must do better!  But, what can one person really do?  In reality, quite a bit when we work together.  There are four key ways to engage.

Engage your spirit.  When Jesus saw a situation that needed additional resources (Matthew 9:36-37) his first response was to encourage prayer.  At E4 we pray weekly for the needs of the poor and needy in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but we need more people to take up the call to pray.  This is both a call to pray, but it is also a call to stay informed as to what the most pressing needs are at any given point in time.

You can stay informed with what is going on in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo by subscribing to our Facebook Page and checking out our webpage for any further developments.

Engage your voice.  Beyond praying it is also important to be an advocate for the poor and needy in your church or your organization.  On our website we have various tools that can help you engage your church or your organization to become defenders of the poor and needy.

Take the time to read through our blog posts and watch our videos.

If you want to go even further, read “When Helping Hurts:  How to Alleviate Poverty without hurting the Poor and Yourself”  This book, more than any other besides the Bible, informs our philosophy on how we do development.

Then get proactive in talking with your leaders at church, your Christian school or organization and explain how E4 Project can help them have a lasting impact among the poor and needy.

Engage your resources.  Even one person’s resources can make a real difference whether you give a one-time gift or you give each month. You can make a difference by:

  • Donating $10 to provide a mosquito net and training…which can potentially save the life of a child
  • Donating $25 a month to provide training and food supplements to help provide a future for malnourished children of Nebobongo
  • Donating $38 a month to support Hope House and provide a safe place for children in Libreville
  • Donating $750 and provide an entire village with clean water

There are many other options, but these give you a taste of the opportunities that are available.

Engage yourself.  Giving is important and strategic, but there is also so much more to do than just giving; one could even choose to go.  We have strategic short-term ministry teams that go to Gabon or the Democratic Republic of Congo on a regular basis and serve our international ministry partners in various ways.  There are opportunities for both the skilled and the non-skilled to make a real difference.  You could also serve where you are by sponsoring an event to raise funds for a specific project.  One of our projects was actually started by a college student who started raising funds for mosquito nets and then went on a short-term trip to help distribute them.  Ultimately, that led to Project Sunset which now is engaged in malaria reduction programs in both Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.