Rev. Dr. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr. (File photo)

Does anyone care about the poor, homeless, immigrants, and victims of violence? It seems like the lives of the financially wealthy lives matter much more than the poor lives throughout the world. It does not matter if you live in America, Africa, Australia, Greece, or Pakistan, poor lives don’t matter.

The tragic news reports of five missing millionaires during the Titan expedition to visit the RMS Titanic more than 12,000 feet below the surface of the ocean had people glued to television news stations or cell phone video reports. CNN canceled all other news reports to share updates on the rescue mission of the doomed ship.

The U.S. Coast Guard spent millions on a search and rescue mission for the five millionaires. The cost for finding the lost 22-foot underwater craft was in the millions of dollars and was paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The world literally came to a standstill to find five very wealthy unknown people.

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Yet, little was reported in the news about the hundreds of poor people who died when a fishing boat carrying 700 migrants sank in Greek waters. Only 104 people, including 12 Pakistanis, were rescued and less than one hundred bodies have been recovered.

The Greek Coast Guard did not engage with the sinking vessel. The UN criticized the lack of attention given to the lost ship.  The fact is very little is reported in the media about the tragic loss of life for the poor, criminalized, and marginalized. The poor people just don’t matter to the news media or the world.

The loss of immigrants’ life at sea is not new news. The group Border Angels estimates that since 1994, about 10,000 people have died in their attempt to cross borders. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 8,050 people have died crossing the U.S–Mexico border between 1998 and 2020.

More than 400 migrants and refugees drowned in early 2023 while attempting to cross the central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe, this is the most fatalities in the past six years over a three-month period, according to a United Nations agency.

The news media has a field day reporting the loss of life by gang violence, Black on Black crime, and the NRA’s attempt to protect gun rights. The fact is new research finds gun violence disproportionately impacts young people living in low-income counties, and that the risk of dying from firearms rises as the concentration of poverty in those communities increases.

Here it is, a recent study shows that cumulative poverty over many years is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. Poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in America, higher than homicides, gun violence, and immigration boats sinking in the ocean. It is policy decisions we must change to address this reality.

God in Jesus the Christ gave us the greatest policy in the world to end poverty. The Bible says in  Luke 4:17-19 (NIV), “[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”

The church must do more than pray. We must advocate for better policies to serve the poor, no matter what race, ethnicity, or gender.

Jesus says in Matt. 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’