Point of View: Becoming a better global citizen

The Oklahoman

By The Rev. Doug Serven Published: Wed, April 3, 2019 1:04 AM Updated: Wed, April 3, 2019 1:28 AM

As a pastor in Oklahoma City, I have a primary job to preach and teach the Gospel message, the good news that Jesus Christ saves sinners. I teach from the Scriptures. I lead worship. I counsel people. I have both difficult and wonderful conversations. I’m thankful to get to participate in our city this way.

In Oklahoma City, we have local issues that consume our attention: discrimination, poverty, hunger, education and mass incarceration are just some of the issues we address with our outreach at CityPres OKC.

Yet we are called to help those who are suffering, not just locally but in the far corners of the world where mothers and children and families are also victims of poverty, hunger and preventable, treatable disease.

One of the most amazing investments we make as a nation, with bipartisan leadership, is to uplift and save the lives of millions through our foreign assistance. Our foreign aid accounts for less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget. And, within that 1 percent, one historic public-private partnership has been the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Global Fund, by conservative estimates, has saved the lives of more than 27 million people since its inception in 2002. Since 2005, there have been half as many AIDS-related deaths, and since 2000, there has been a 37 percent decline in TB deaths and 60 percent decline in malaria deaths.

Not only has the Global Fund made these historic achievements with such a tiny proportion of our budget, but also with every $1 the U.S. commits, we require by law $2 from the global community as a match, encouraging other countries world to join us to end these pandemics.

This year marks the sixth three-year cycle of funding replenishment for the Global Fund, and it’s critical we get this right. We know that if we can step up the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria with just a modest increase, we can save an additional 16 million lives. And, we can avert 234 million infections of disease cases.

Sen. James Lankford has the unique opportunity to showcase his leadership for humanitarian assistance programs, like the Global Fund, through his role on the Appropriations Committee. I ask Lankford to call for a $1.56 billion U.S. contribution to the Global Fund in fiscal years 2020–2022. That small but consequential increase would deliver those added lives saved and devastating infections averted.

Supporting the work of global health is not only the smart thing to do for a more secure world, it’s the right thing to do. God calls all of us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly. One of our jobs is to speak up on behalf of the poor and the powerless as their advocates and champions.

Serven is pastor of CityPres (City Presbyterian Church) in Oklahoma City.

Jennifer Dyer