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OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 What is an Offering of Letters? Offering of Letters is an activity of Micah Challenge, a campaign which supports Christians living out the words of Micah 6:8 to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God We want to see change in people’s hearts and in public policy so that the terrible effects of global poverty can be addressed.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 Just as we offer our money and our time to God, we can also offer our voices on behalf of the poor. This is part of our worship, and gives us the opportunity to “do justice and love kindness” by prayerfully writing letters to our Treasurer. We can encourage generous action by our nation.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 Why write a letter? Many of the world’s poor have no voice with the powerful decision makers of our world – but your letter can bring the concerns of the poor to our nation’s leaders. A hand-written letter is a very effective advocacy tool. Imagine the potential impact of many thousands of letters to our Treasurer written on behalf of the poor!
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 What can we do about poverty? There’s a lot we can do. The nations of the world have agreed on 8 poverty goals called the Millennium Development Goals. They are ambitious goals but they are achievable. Individuals can be involved but we also need government action on the big issues like aid, trade rules, crippling debt, climate change and effective governance.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 The Millennium Development Goals The goals, which have a target date of 2015, are: 1.Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2.Achieve universal primary education 3.Promote gender equality and empower women 4.Reduce child mortality 5.Improve maternal health 6.Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease 7.Ensure environmental sustainability 8.Develop a global partnership for development addressing issues such as trade, debt, aid and public health to promote economic growth and poverty reduction
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 What do we need to do? Increase Overseas Aid to 0.7% In 1970, the world’s rich countries (including Australia) promised to increase government aid to poor countries to 0.7% of national income. This is just 70 cents in every $100 dollars of our annual earnings. This level of aid is needed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 What we can do The current government has announced that Australia’s aid will increase from the current level of 0.33% (2010-2011) to 0.35% (2011- 12) and to 0.5% of national income by 2015. This will still leave Australia 15th of 22 rich countries and falling well short of doing our fair share towards achieving the MDGs. We call on the Australian Government to take the following steps: To keep the commitment of increasing Australia’s overseas aid to 0.5% by 2015 Make a timetabled commitment to increase Australia’s overseas aid to 0.7% of national income.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 Praying over our letters All: Lord, we come to pour out our grief at the suffering in our world – the physical pain, spiritual poverty, political oppression and economic injustice. Instead of despairing when we read the news, we want to be making the news; changing the world rather than accepting the status quo. Leader: As Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” All: God, we can't thank you enough for lighting up the world when you sent your son to us. Now shine through us with the power of your spirit. Motivate us to become the answer to the prayers on our lips. Fill us, we humbly pray with power, persistence and wisdom so that we can be a prophetic voice in our land.
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 Leader: “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house... In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” All: Help these letters we offer as a form of worship to you to shine your light of compassion and justice into the offices of our political leaders. Prompt them to respond to our call on behalf of the poor. Leader: Jesus also says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” All: Dear God, remind us to hunger for your righteousness and mercy so that through us you can change the lives of people near us and around the world through our prayers, words and actions. Amen
Dear Treasurer, I am writing because... [add your personal thoughts here] I believe Australia has a vital role to play in the global effort to halve poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs ) by 2015. This date is not too far away. Thank you for keeping your commitment to increase Australia’s overseas aid to 0.5% of national income by 2015, even in the face of difficult economic times. The increase in aid funding we saw in the 2011/12 federal budget indicates to me that your Government places importance on achieving the MDGs. This will make a very real difference to our global neighbours, people experiencing the crippling effects of poverty. Tough economic times are having the deepest impact in developing countries. In light of this, we must seek to ensure that our aid is spent as effectively as possible on poverty reduction measures. At times such as these, we must hold firm to our commitment to do all we can to protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our world. I therefore ask that you once again maintain your commitment to the existing timetable for increasing aid in the next federal budget. I also ask, that as you consider forward estimates for future budgets, you outline a timetabled commitment to reaching your aspirational goal of an aid target of 0.7% of national income as soon as possible. I pray that you will have wisdom as you make significant financial decisions and courage in your leadership role in our nation. Yours faithfully, [Sign the letter and neatly print your name, address and postcode]
OFFERING OF LETTERS 2011 Your letters will be collected and hand delivered to the Treasurer at ‘Voices for Justice’ in September. Thank you!
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