Jackson kicked off the sessions with a presentation on culture and economics Wednesday night.
He said global transformation takes place at the intersection of culture and economics.
“Exposing yourself to a new concept of a possible future is huge,” Jackson said. “The No. 1 thing is getting a person to think about the possibility.”
Sessions will continue throughout Thursday and Friday at Lee University in the Church Street Annex (formerly the First Baptist Church).
All three men have witnessed poverty in different ways. Toke grew up in Singapore. He said he witnessed the country evolve from a fishing village to a financial hub. Jackson is the president of the Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment. He has helped developing countries receive medical supplies for more than 25 years. Claiborne’s ministry has led him to Mother Teresa and the Iraq Peace Team. He is also the founder of The Simple Way, a faith-community in inner-city Philadelphia.
All three speakers have challenged themselves with the same task: providing a new perspective on poverty and igniting change.
Toke said he would like to impact college students attending the sessions.
“We need to spark [their] curiosity,” Toke said. “It will help them understand what is being done and how they can help. This will then empower them to go out and do something about [poverty].”
Jackson said the average American does not put much effort into understanding poverty.
“Once American people begin to see their efforts can be exponentially increased to save lives, they are eager to get involved,” Jackson said.
A person must first be willing to listen.
“Second, you need to find someone who is articulate and prepared enough to explain how [you] can fit into a different mold,” Jackson said. “When they actually see they can help the country [in poverty] be better off, then they will start taking trips.”
He said people often suffer from “Me-ism,” also known as being self-centered. Many people require a perspective change, according to Jackson.
“They will start seeing [poverty and need] for themselves. Then they will not necessarily buy what is being shown to them [by their culture],” Jackson said.
Toke will share how poverty can be elevated to give people an opportunity. He said he is interested in finding young people who have this calling in their lives.
“We need to give meaning to the young people. To help them see life is about family and community and the world they live in,” Toke said.
He said they need exposure to situations in other parts of the world to which they may not otherwise be exposed.
Added Toke, “I like what PCL [People for Care and Learning] is doing. I am here to look for the next Fred Garmon [PCL president]. Someone to continue this legacy. If this symposium can help someone like him, then it is worth it.”
Those interested can attend any number of sessions today and Friday. Today’s sessions were to include a Q & A with Claiborne from 1 to 2:30 p.m.; breakout sessions on various topics from 3 to 4 p.m.; and a presentation by Toke from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday’s sessions include a presentation on Research in Sustainable Methods to Break Hunger and Poverty from 9 to 10 a.m.; academic breakout sessions from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; and The Candy Shop and panel discussion from 7 to 8:30 p.m. All events mentioned are at the Church Street Annex.