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Global Citizens, Concerts, and Mercy.

bangla deshBangla Desh or Bangladesh is probably not known to many people here in the United States.  I won’t rant on our national appalling ignorance of geography and history but you might want to think a bit about places like Bangladesh.  Earlier this month ISIS attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka which shows that group is expanding from the mid-east and moving into Asia.  Places like this may be far from our minds but they should not.  We are all global citizens whether we know it or not.

Back in the day just after I graduated a friend of mine went as a photographer from a major news paper and took pictures of George Harrison.  He and others were performing at the “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden.  Bangladesh was a humanitarian nightmare for political, and meteorological reasons. Harrison organized the concert at the request of Ravi Shankar who was a great Indian Sitarist.  Somewhere I have pictures that my friend sent somewhere and I think of that concert every time the rockers and rollers and hip hoppers get some conscience and want to help somebody other than themselves.  As big as the names who preformed were, the concert raised $250000.  That was big money in 1971, but Hilary gets that for one speech at one college today.  The money back then was given to UNICEF which administered it poorly and caused some scandal, but even scandals were smaller back then.

Then we had “Live Aid” which was much in the same vein as George’s effort.  Now we have the “Global Citizens concert”.  It has gone on for a few years,  According to Roger Friedman in “Showbiz 411 the 2014 concert “revenue was $10.5 million. Total contributions (donations from sponsors presumably since there’s no other donor breakdown) in 2014 were $8.8 million. (The difference came in investments, etc.)

All that money came in and this is where it went: they say $782,358 went to “increase awareness of Global Poverty.” This isn’t listed under Grants to poor people. The only money Global Poverty gave to any specific charitable organization was $96,896 to Rotary Clubs of America to promote polio awareness.

Some other expenses: $332,373 for Office Expenses. $376,641 for Travel Expenses.

And an astounding $7.1 million to put on the Central Park Concert in 2014 with Beyonce, Jay Z, and No Doubt. Included in that number is over $2 million paid to outside vendors.”

The bottom line according to Friedman was that staff got a 1 million dollar raise.

It is not easy when anyone tries to illuminate poverty.  In fact Jesus says it can’t be done because the poor will always be with us.  That does mean that we don’t try.  Helping the poor and needy, the orphaned and the widow gets a Biblical definition when it is called a religion that is pure and undefiled.  James 1:27

27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The problem with mercy work is that it needs organization.  Once organized it suffers all the stuff that organizations suffer from including staff bloat.  Audits and reviews have to take place and pretty soon “the world” stains even the best efforts.  Yet the church’s task is to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments and serve God by serving the neighbor.  Mercy work is not an option, it is what we are as we serve the God who in mercy sent His Son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it.

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