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Jewish Journal

Bad times for foreign-aid agencies

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 12, 2008 | 9:45 am

This is a bad time to be a foreign-aid agency. Forget dealing with African warlords—soaring gas and food prices, coupled with inflation, are dropping the hammer on outside help. A United Methodist aid executive calls it “the perfect storm.”

“There are grocery stores with no food on the shelves,” said [Jeff] Palmer, director of Baptist Global Response, which administers the Southern Baptist Convention’s world hunger programs. “People work all day and they can only afford a half pound of food because of the lack of buying power.”

The southern African nation represents just one of many such strained economies. Food riots in places like Bangladesh, Egypt, and Haiti symbolize what the United Nations World Food Program has called a “silent tsunami”— a crisis that has confronted 854 million people with food shortages and spiraling food prices.

Citing an 83 percent rise in commodities over the past three years, in late April the U.N. formed a task force on global food insecurity, bringing together heads of key U.N. agencies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and others.

A combination of high oil prices, crops diverted to bio-fuels, droughts, natural disasters, increased demand, and other factors—such as crop diseases and the die-off of honey bees in the U.S. — have contributed to the problem, said Baylor University economics professor Earl Grinols. Although he sees markets adjusting to meet the need, Grinols said, “We should expect we’ll see tight conditions for two more years.”

Obviously, the unspoken message in this article from Christianity Today is that global circumstances are making spreading the gospel a lot more difficult in poor, missionary-rich countries.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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