Human beings always want proof, whether it is in the form of evidence for a crime scene, a mathematical proof, or proof that an event actually occurred. Either way, “proof” is an indication that something is valid andtrue. A big part of the job here at ONE is to prove to people that what we are campaigning for is working and will continue to work with continued support and advocacy. It’s hard to convince someone of something if there is no proof to back it up. Which is why ONE started the Living Proof Campaign: to highlight individuals and communities that are thriving because they have received sustainable aid from governments like the United States. As Bill and Melinda Gates explain in the Living Proof Presentation, it’s about time that people heard some good news. So, what is the good news?
I could talk here about the numbers, which are certainly important. Take, for instance, the fact that as of 2008 less than 9 million children were dying each year as opposed to 20 million in 1960. Or what about the fact that nearly 4,000,000 Africans are now on life-saving AIDS medication, what we call anti-retroviral (ARV’s) medication. Or, most astounding of all, that over 1 billion people have been lifted out of the vicious cycle of poverty. All of these facts and more can be found on ONE’s Living Proof website (which I have added below). These numbers and facts are crucial to convincing the American public and other wealthy, developed countries that foreign aid is effective and sustainable. Yet something I learned while at the RESULTS conference last week was enlightening. When meeting with elected officials (or their aides, in most cases), what is important in pushing your agenda is to be human, to tell them stories that will affect them and make them listen to what you have to say. ONE created videos (which can also be found on the website) that highlight real success stories and can be used as talking points when meeting with a member of Congress!
Amidst all of this demand for proof, I find myself wishing that we didn’t need to constantly ask for proof that giving sustainable aid to the world’s poorest is working. This wish is useless though, because in a time when the most important discussion on the table is the economy, people want to know that their money is being well spent and used effectively. However, even if times have changed, the constant demand for proof has not. It is as ancient a concept as any. Even Moses knew that the people of Israel would need proof that the Lord appeared to him. He cries, “ ‘suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say ‘The Lord did not appear to you’’” (Exodus 4:1). In turn, the Lord grants Moses certain miracles to perform for the people to convince them of the truth. Even Jesus was not beyond giving proof of his message. In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus proclaiming to the Jews, “‘If I do them [the miracles], even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father’”(John 10:38).
The Bible shows that demand for proof and the presence of proof is as much a part of Christianity as it is a part of the secular world. I struggle with this idea, that faith alone is not enough for Christians to believe that what is right–such as advocating for the world’s poorest around the globe–does not need proof. I realize that we are all human and Jesus also understood that humans need proof to believe. This doesn’t mean that the proof must be artificial proof. The best way to see this proof is through human lives. I am not just talking about lives that have been saved, but lives that have been transformed. Miroslav Volf says it best in his book,Allah: A Christian Response (which I will cover next week), which sums up Martin Luther’s view on God and humanity:
God loves human beings not because they are or strive to be godly,
but in spite of the fact that they are ungodly; and God loves them
so as to create godliness in them, transforming them into beings
who reflect God’s love in the world (69).
There is a lot of “God” talk jammed into that one sentence, but even still, it is a powerful comment on how God manifests His love in the world. It makes me look at proof in a new light. It can be something to rejoice in and to be glad about, maybe even to shout from the rooftops! Why shouldn’t we proclaim the good news that is happening every day that is transforming people’s lives? Millions of children in Africa are alive today! Millions of children can now go to school! Millions of Africans are being treated successfully for HIV/AIDS! If this is not proof of God’s love in the world, then I don’t know what is.
To view various Living Proof videos and stories, click here: