by Katharine Baker, PhD, Faith Outreach Director

On May 16-17, 2017, Hope Through Healing Hands took a team of Christian artists and pastors to Washington, DC, to meet with members of Congress and communicate their concerns about the devastating effects that would result from the severe budget cuts to foreign assistance funding proposed by President Trump. “More than 50% of Americans still believe that our foreign assistance amounts to 25% of the U.S. budget. In actuality, it is less than one percent,” said Jenny Dyer, Ph.D., Executive Director of HTHH. “If Congress accepts President Trump’s 28% cut to foreign assistance, the historic progress we have led over the past twenty-five years to prevent the deaths of mothers and children around the world will halt.”

Participants in this “Christian Influencers Advocacy Trip” included pastors artists Jennifer Nettles, Matt Maher, Dan Haseltine, Brandon Heath, and Steve Taylor and pastor Josh Rouse among others. All of them were eager to share their personal experiences in working to alleviate the extreme poverty and dire health threats in the developing world. For example, Steve Taylor brought his adopted daughter Sarah Taylor, who was born in Uganda, who gave her first-hand account of becoming an orphan because she lost her parents to disease.

Pastor Josh Rouse, of Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, emphasized the role of faith in motivating advocacy for the funding of the International Affairs Budget, explaining that sometimes Americans have difficulty imagining how they can make a difference when confronted by the overwhelming needs of global health. “But this is where the church leads,” he stated, “Our scripture calls us to care for the poor, to love our neighbor, even if that neighbor is in Bangladesh or Malawi. We must transcend our nationalism to care for the poorest world-wide. My goal as an outreach pastor is to help our congregants understand the variety of ways we can take action, such as advocating for international assistance.” 

On the first day of the trip, May 16th, the HTHH team partnered with Friends of the Global Fight (FGF), the U.S. advocacy organization supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria around the world. Thanks to front-line programs such as the Global Fund, the number of deaths from malaria and tuberculosis has been cut in half since 1990. To share this good news and insist that the fight continue, Chris Collins, FGF President, and Mark Lagon, FGF Chief Policy Officer, joined the Christian Influencers for meetings with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and counselors to HHS Secretary Tom Price.

On the following day, May 17th, the HTHH team collaborated with the ONE Campaign. Tom Hart, ONE’s North America Executive Director, explained: “Our foreign assistance programs are among the few places in the government where funding translates to lives saved. Cutting foreign aid would put in jeopardy those who depend on life-saving assistance like anti-retroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS, food assistance for those in famine, bed nets for those fighting malaria, and anti-corruption measures. These programs have had strong bipartisan support for generations and we're going up to the Hill to ensure it stays that way.” HTHH championed the entire International Affairs Account, or the 150 account, and we visited Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Congressman Diane Black (R-TN), and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).

Participants agreed that the two-day event was a success, given the congressmen’s sincere attention and willingness to listen to the message that the U.S. must continue its moral leadership in improving health around the world by preserving foreign assistance funding. 

While U.S. foreign assistance comprises less than 1 percent of the federal budget, programs such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Feed the Future, and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) have saved and improved the lives of tens of millions. For example, U.S. leadership has helped to cut in half global under-five child deaths over the last twenty-five years, and in the last ten years alone the U.S. has led efforts to provide AIDS treatment to more than 15 million patients and to reduce malaria deaths by 75 percent in many of the hardest hit countries.
During the last two presidential administrations, we have taken a stand to champion the historic funding to fight the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. When we began in 2002, less than 50,000 people who were victims of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa had access to anti-retro viral medications. Today, because of the legislation of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, over 17 million people have access to the medicines which have saved their lives. We are proud that the United States has been the international cornerstone leader of this funding as a moral response, a charitable response, and a response based on smart power— national security, foreign policy, and economic reasons.
Today, more than 783 million people around the world lack access to clean water, and nearly 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. Because dirty water contributes to diarrheal diseases, a leading cause of death among children under the age of five, this translates to more than 700,000 preventable, treatable deaths among children every year. Without clean water to drink, cook and clean, disease and death abound.

Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference

Lakewood Church

February 18, 2017

This past week executive directors Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD and William Moore co-hosted a breakout session at Lakewood Church in Houston on the importance of nutrition during the 1000 day window – from conception to 2 years old – of a child’s life for proper cognitive and physical development. We live in a time where 1 out of 3 people suffer from malnutrition in some form. The most devastating consequences include stunting and wasting of children who are victims of undernutrition.

But the good news is that, together, we can really bolster funding and food security worldwide with advocacy. Right now less than one percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance. And nutrition is just one percent of that one percent. A fraction of funding that should be protected and enhanced with proper nutrition education and counseling during this critical time for mothers and children.

We encourage you to call or write your Congressional representative today (house.gov or senate.gov) and let them know that you support full funding for nutrition in foreign assistance to allow children and families to flourish to their full potential in school, in jobs, and in life. We can be the generation to end poverty. This is a critical step.

Please join us.

Our 2017 annual letter is addressed to our dear friend Warren Buffett, who in 2006 donated the bulk of his fortune to our foundation to fight disease and reduce inequity. A few months ago, Warren asked us to reflect on what impact his gift has had on the world.

Esther Havens was ready to take on her true passion, to follow her dream wherever it took her. She wanted to travel the world and help people, so “humanitarian photographer” was the label she gave herself. The task? To help organizations and enterprises obtain photographs for campaigns that would aid the disenfranchised.

Subscribe to our newsletter to recieve the latest updates.