'The Bible has revolutionary power to free the poor', Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a conference of Evangelical UK Christians and church leaders in London at the weekend.
The Nobel Prize winner was speaking at an event organised by Evangelical aid agency Tearfund and Jesus House for all the Nations on Saturday, where he challenged churches to be 'the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus' in the fight against local and global poverty.
Drawing on his experiences in apartheid-dominated South Africa, the Archbishop told more than 800 delegates; "If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible.
“There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.”
In a rallying call to the Church for more action to help the poor, the Archbishop added, “I want to thank you for caring as you do. Thank you for being a local church that wants to engage with other local churches, for wanting to make the invisible God visible.”
Churches were encouraged to show greater engagement on the issue of HIV and AIDS by Lynne Hybels, the co-founder of one of America’s largest churches, Willow Creek.
She spoke of her `second conversion’ when she was awakened to the issue of HIV and AIDS while visiting Uganda where she had to make a decision – give in to the hopelessness of the pandemic or take positive action.
She chose the latter, stepping into the limelight to speak out and tell people of the injustices of the AIDS crisis.
Lynne Hybels and Archbishop Desmond Tutu were joined by speakers Nicky Gumbel, vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, Matthew Frost, Tearfund’s Chief Executive and Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor of Jesus House for all the Nations.
Pastor Aug Irukwu, of the Brent Cross-based Jesus House church said, “I am one of the believers that the Church is an agent of change for God. The Church, engaged through agencies like Tearfund, working with churches in Africa, working together, can make a difference.”
Tearfund’s Matthew Frost said: “The local church is uniquely placed to make some of the greatest impacts on the lives of the poor. It is right in the heart of their communities and knows those most in need.”
The conference also saw the launch of a major new Tearfund appeal to boost access to HIV treatment and support for those living with HIV, called Alive.