Foreign Aid and Security


In an article titled “Foreign Aid Saves Lives—And Makes America Safer,” Bill Frist, a surgeon, a former U.S. Senator, and chairman of Hope Through Healing Hands, a global health organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, its executive director, make a compelling case for maintaining the current level of US foreign aid.  Their argument is based on biblical, humanitarian, and practical grounds.

Polls show that many Americans greatly overestimate how much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid.  In various surveys, they guess that 25 to 30 percent of the budget is used for this purpose. In reality, only about two-thirds of 1 percent is devoted to international aid.

Frist and Eaton insist, as we do in Suffer the Children, that helping other nations combat poverty, hunger, disease, and conflict is consistent with biblical commands “to care for the poor and support a culture of life.  From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures compel us to care for the marginalized—to care for the widow, the orphan, and the refugee.”

Since 1990, the global rate of maternal and child deaths, infectious diseases, and poverty has been cut in half and the cases of HIV/AIDS have been substantially reduced.  This may be our generation’s greatest legacy.  US foreign aid has played a significant role in this accomplishment.  “Millions of mothers, babies, children, and families are alive today,” Frist and Eaton argue, because of America’s outstanding leadership in improving global “health, food security, and education—all at a cost of less than 1 percent of our country’s spending.”  US aid has benefitted vulnerable groups throughout the world by providing adults and children with basic health care, medications, and nutritious food.  Without this, many would die from a mosquito bite, a cold, diarrhea, or contaminated water.

Scholars argue that countries that fail economically become breeding grounds for terrorists and conflict.  Therefore, to make America stronger and safer, Frist and Eaton contend, fully funding foreign assistance is essential.  Reports indicate that as President Donald Trump strives to balance the federal budget, he may propose reducing US foreign assistance by as much as 37 percent.

The church has a vital role to play in feeding the hungry, providing clean water, reducing disease, and ending conflicts through its prayers, philanthropy, practical actions, and advocacy. The US government, however, also has an important role to play in accomplishing these goals and ending the needless deaths of millions of mothers and children.

Frist and Eaton exhort Christians to let the president and Congress know that we want them to continue “to fully fund foreign assistance for health and development.” This involves “less than a penny of each dollar in the US budget.”

“Let us heed the call of the Scriptures to uplift the poor,” Frist and Eaton conclude.  This can “save the lives of millions” and give the world’s poorest people the chance to flourish. Development assistance enhances America’s security while saving many lives and promoting “a culture of life.”

Gary SmithComment