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Fast Living: How The Church Will End Extreme Poverty

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Fast Living: How The Church Will End Extreme Poverty
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Author Scott C. Todd
Country United States
Language English language
Genre(s) Religion, Christian Life
Publisher Compassion
Released September 2011
Media Type Paperback, Kindle
Pages 208
ISBN ISBN 1936899000

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Fast Living: How The Church Will End Extreme Poverty was written by Dr. Scott Todd, senior ministry advisor for Compassion International, and chairman of the board for Accord, North America’s largest network of Christ relief and development organizations. Dr. Todd was formerly a professor of immunology and microbiology.


In this book, Dr. Todd asserts that the church and Christian relief organizations can bring an end to extreme poverty. (The author uses the World Bank definition of living on $1.25 or less per day as “extreme poverty.”) The book outlines a strategy for reducing or eliminating extreme poverty. The book is meant to be a companion to the movie Project 58:, a film about the same topic. It also directs readers toward a website, live58.org, where they can find nine humanitarian projects to contribute to or get involved in.


The number 58 refers to Isaiah 58, a chapter in the Bible which discusses fasting (going without food) for the purpose of providing for the poor. The book contains 29 chapters, divided into five sections (previewed below). His thesis, backed by statistics on disease, poverty and literacy, is that poverty is actually declining, deaths from malaria and measles have been drastically reduced, and that if trends continue, poverty will continue to decline. The author asserts that these trends will not continue on their own but will require caring people to take action. The author argues that “concern” for the poor is not enough, action is necessary to continue the positive trends.

Section 1

The death and resurrection of expectations: the author asserts that because people generally believe that extreme poverty can be abated, they do not take action to alleviate it. The author cites numerous statistics, including the fact that extreme poverty has been cut in half since 1981. (from 52 percent of the world’s population to 26 percent). He calls for a shift in thinking about the poor, and invites readers to “the true fast,” that is, fasting on behalf of the poor as directed in the bible, in Isaiah 58.

Section 2

Poverty is not an unconquerable mystery: the author asserts that children in poverty die because of lack of sanitation and clean water. He argues that a lack of hope, along with a lack of resources, are both the cause and consequence of poverty. The author writes that the hope of Christian faith is an essential component in fighting poverty: “Sharing the gospel is anti-poverty work,” he asserts. In this section (Chapter 12), the author addresses a common argument against ending poverty, Jesus’ words in Matthew 26, that “the poor you will always have with you.” He argues that Jesus’ words were not condoning poverty.

Section 3

What kind of people will end extreme poverty? The author argues that Christians must live generously. He points to the history of Christian social justice movements, and argues that such social action must be motivated by love, and encourages readers to see themselves as the kind of people who can end extreme poverty. He argues that many middle class Americans don’t realize the power and influence they have in the world: “We don’t attempt great things because we don’t see ourselves as the type of people who accomplish great things.” (p. 145)

Section 4

The primary colors of social change: The author devotes an entire chapter to explaining how he believes moms can end poverty. He goes on to argue that government should be involved in aid to poor nations, but not the exclusive source of that aid. The author asserts that buying “fair trade” items will make a difference in helping the poor, and that business should play a role in creating prosperity for the poor. He argues that churches, which already are located in poverty-stricken areas, should see those locations as strategic in the fight against extreme poverty.

Section 5

Catalysts and strategy: the author argues that Christians should fast (go without food or buying for short amounts of time) in order to free up resources they can give to the poor. He argues that if the 138 million American Christians who attend church at least twice per month were to tithe (give 10 percent), it would raise $250 billion per year, which could go toward the poor. The author asserts that young people should be invited to engage in the battle against poverty, rather than simply “entertained” at church.

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