Jim Wallis’ article “A Call to Repentance” (January 2008) speaks directly and powerfully to an issue that is incredibly important for American Christians to come to terms with. I would also like to add a concrete example of the fact that “generous leadership to combat poverty and disease, for example, might be a more effective way to make friends in the world.”
Several years ago our church sponsored a mission trip to Costa Rica. Eighteen people went to a small village to teach children and paint buildings. We slept on a concrete floor and visited the sick. These people were clearly moved that Caucasians from the richest country in the world would come to their impoverished village and do this work. We made many friends and certainly helped all of us to be more secure in the world.
This trip wasn’t unusual as mission trips go, but what we often forget to look at are the economics of these ventures. This trip cost us $14,000. What if we used our current average defense budget to sponsor such service trips? $450 billion pays for 32 million trips. This is enough for millions of Americans to visit every country on earth thousands of times every year.
Imagine what such an outpouring of service, compassion, and mutual understanding would do for our world. This would buy security for all.