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Persecuted Church Economic Development Network established to address economic viability of the Persecuted Church

By Michael Ireland

Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

9/15/06 All Persecuted Countries (ANS) — From Cuba to North Africa to the Muslim Middle East, India and the rest of South Asia, North Korea , China , Vietnam , and Indonesia , there are 200 million Christians in 60 countries suffering for their faith every day. Yet they remain largely forgotten by the church in the West.

In addition to physical violence, widespread unemployment in developing countries and social ostracism means these Christians also face the daily challenge of providing adequate food, clothing and housing for themselves and their family. In fact, many persecuted Christians live on as little as $60USD a month.

Responding to this serious, growing economic challenge for persecuted Christians, 16 leaders from 11 international organizations met recently in Atlanta to form the Persecuted Christian Economic Development Network (PCEDN) to explore how the global church can assist fellow believers.

A media advisory states: “In addition to discussing the status of the persecuted church, the group also agreed on broad definitions relating to micro-finance, sustainable small and large enterprise development, tent making and macro-economic conditions. Moreover, leaders identified critical roadblocks to economically helping the emerging, persecuted church including: an inappropriate economic worldview among both the Western and emerging churches, lack of good models of economic sustainability for healthy churches in a hostile environment, shortage of sustainable, reproducible grassroots economic development models relevant to the emerging church, and lack of collaboration among Western resource ministries.”

As one leader remarked, “Unless we successfully address this issue, it’s likely that our efforts in evangelism and church planting in the toughest parts of the world will have little lasting impact.”

Three PCEDN Working Groups were established to consider Models of Sustainable Economic Development, Information Exchange, and Facilitating the Network.

The PCEDN Working Groups will address the need for sustainable economic develop models and standards for training and consulting with the emerging church.

Plans are also underway for a PCEDN e-newsletter and website. The next global meeting of the PCEDN will be held spring 2007 in Bangkok