This review is on the book Fast Living by Scott C. Todd (September 2011)This book was released along with the Live 58 Movement and 58: The Film.  If you are interested in figuring out what these are, check out Average Advocate’s review and explanation by clicking here. I really enjoy hearing what stood out to the author of this guest post, Aimee, about the power we have as advocates to fight extreme poverty where we are.

Are You Still Munching on Potato Chips?

I just finished reading the book Fast Living by Scott C. Todd. One word: inspiring! I am resolved to do more… much more… to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. I want to live the fast of Isaiah 58!

First of all, let’s define what the book refers to as extreme poverty. It is defined by the World Bank as life on less than $1.25 per day. As of 2005, the World Bank estimates there were 1.4 billion people in that condition.

In the last generation {from 1981 to today}, we have seen the extreme global poverty rate fall from 52% {of the world’s population} to 26%. It is believed that we can continue that downward trajectory in this generation {from today to the year 2035}… from 26% to zero!

Did you read that correctly?
Yes! Zero. Zero percent!
Inspiring, isn’t it?

So, who can participate in this fight? You! And, me! If you are reading this blog post, you are in a position to join in the fight. If you make $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than 81% of the people in the world… therefore, you can join the fight!
So, how will we do it? The book suggests that eliminating extreme global poverty can be done when Christians effect change by practicing the true fast of Isaiah 58… living simply so others may simply live.
In Chapter 8, entitled True Fast, the author paints a poignant picture. The following paragraphs are chunks of direct quotes from that chapter… the thoughts are too important to paraphrase, too vital to just summarize:

Imagine a young couple in the labor and delivery room experiencing the birth of their first child. Hear her groans, see the sweat, and feel the anxious tension. Now place a bag of potato chips in the husband’s hands and picture him munching away as he watches his wife give birth. As if it were on TV. It’s just wrong!

… in sacred moments, we do not eat. It seems wrong to eat.

… fasting is a natural response. Like not eating during your wedding vows because the moment is too sacred. Like not eating as you look into the casket at a funeral because the moment is too grievous.

… fasting is a response to a very serious situation, not a device to take us from a good level to a better level. It’s something you do when circumstances are bad enough that you don’t want to eat and it would seem wrong to do so. Or when circumstances are incredible enough that you don’t even think about food.

We’re living in a grievous sacred moment.

Grievous because over twenty-thousand children continue to die every day from preventable causes. Grievous because we give far less that 1 percent of our personal income to anti-poverty work. Grievous because our nation allocates only 0.17 percent of its budget to help the poor. It feels like we are munching potato chips while staring into the casket.

It is a sacred moment because our generation has the unprecedented and history-making opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty from earth. This is our moment. And if we feel the trembling possibilities of this moment, we won’t even be able to think of munching down the chips.

When we feel in our gut what God feels when hungry children die while those who claim His name spend millions on worship centers, we will physically respond. We will be compelled to drill water wells in Africa, fright government corruption, and ensure that children don’t go hungry.

If we are serious about living the True Fast, then we will be serious about our thinking, use of resources, and even our habits. We will create a culture of effective Christian generosity with the objective of ending extreme global poverty.

That, my friends… is how the true fast should be practiced, how it is to be lived!

Furthermore, as a mom… here are three thoughts from the book resonated very well with me.

Thought #1: Increasing our donation dollars and volunteer hours, and directing them towards organizations with objectives of ending extreme global poverty. The book states that “moms are often the ones making charitable decisions and forming the volunteer force of local churches.”

Christian relief and development organizations operate over five billion dollars per year in anti-poverty work (page 146).

Thought #2: One of the other ways we can fight global poverty is simply with the purchasing decisions we make each and every day. The book suggests that moms have the greatest power to create a new market for social good simply because “women make 85 percent of America’s purchasing decisions.” A few examples of these purchasing decisions would be: buying fair trade food {even if it costs us more}… for example coffee, chocolate and banana; supporting companies like TOMS Shoes, Ten Thousand Villages and Pocket Change Apparel just to name a few.

American Christians have been made stewards to $2.5 trillion per year in income, and we will go shopping with it. We can create powerful new markets for social good focused on ending extreme poverty (page 145).

Reward companies that champion social causes, such as clean water, education, combating preventable disease, sustainable agriculture, and many other poverty-fighting efforts. Buy fair trade. Don’t worry about whether companies are using these efforts as “marketing gimmicks.” They are marketing gimmicks and we want these gimmicks to work (page 146).

Thought #3: Our children will be the ones to finish the job of eliminating extreme global poverty. As parents, we have a responsibility to live out our faith and this new normal in such a way that it will be what our children want to be characterized by. Young people have an incredible power to change the world.

Ending extreme global poverty is a twenty-five year endeavor. Today’s fifteen-year-olds will be turning forty as we run the last (and most difficult) mile, and they will be carrying the baton. How hard they will run then depends on their engagement today (page 174).

If we intend to raise up an army of Christ-followers who will pursue justice for the oppressed and who will fight the adversary in a world afflicted by poverty, then we must begin training our youth for that fight. They are our greatest asset. They are young and full of energy. They are uncompromising idealists and they actually believe that God is all-powerful (page 178).

Food for thought, don’t you think? Are you still munching on potato chips? Or are you inspired to act now? Yes? Awesome!

You can start by checking out one of the following organizations:

What do you say? Together, we can do this! I, for one, am looking forward to the year 2035 when…

Famine and hunger are permanently abolished. Children born in Africa are just as likely to have a fifth birthday party as children born in America. School completion and literacy rates are above 90 percent. Death by mosquito is eradicated. The invisible terrorists in African drinking water are disarmed, eliminated, or rendered harmless (paraphrased from page 186).

Let’s stop munching on potato chips and start living the true fast! Now. Today. This very moment. It’s time to Live 58!!!

The guest writer of this post, Aimee, authors the blog
A Mom on a Mission: Unwrapping more of His love in this world. She is passionate about acting justly,  loving mercy and walking humbly with God (from a verse in the Bible- Micah 6:8). She is a wife and a mom of two kids (and “mom” of a lot of sponsorship kids in other countries).  Amiee works as a Volunteer Compassion Coordinator in Canada.  You can follow her on twitter too: @Mama2GreatKids