Christopher Redner, an award-winning television producer, journalist and founder of Children In Need, has traveled worldwide, reporting on the developing world. Redner wants his work to help people develop an intelligent, compassionate response to global issues. That's why he created World Week.
"People often see images of hunger, violence, disease and environmental destruction on television or in print," Redner says. "Many shut these images out or say 'I can't do anything about that'. And you can't blame them.
"Unless you can place negative images - violence in the Middle East, Mexico or Rwanda, flooding in Bangladesh, destruction of the rain forest in Brazil or Indonesia - in a context and understand what caused them and what you can do, it is natural to shut the images out, emotionally if not literally. I want to help people better understand the kinds of experiences that I have seen, reported on and photographed."
"I want to help people discover that however bleak things look, we can change the world. We can't solve all the world's problems, but we can make things better. Perhaps the biggest change we can make is in how we understand our world and the people who share it with us. That's the motivating force behind World Week."
World Week includes fun and educational activities designed to help people understand what life is like for people suffering from disease, abuse, hunger, discrimination and environmental devastation. There are free leader's guides for each World Week activity that explain how to organize the event.
Participants in the "Water Walk," for example, take a four-mile (about six km) trek through downtown streets, carrying buckets of water on their heads. They learn how hard women work in developing countries just to gather water. And they can raise money and child sponsors through an international organization to help provide clean, safe water for people who desperately need it.
Participants in the "Gender Banquet" prepare and attend a meal during which they learn what it is like to be discriminated against on the basis of gender. Participants in "Prison Wear" design T-shirts honoring people subjected to human rights abuses and write letters on their behalf.
By choosing a cross-section of activities, participants learn how major global issues are related - how poverty causes environmental degradation, how human rights violations thwart peace, how discrimination limits education or how lack of education fuels overpopulation.
Many participants are sponsored by friends, family and neighbors who pledge to sponsor a child to help people suffering from hunger, disease, abuse, discrimination and environmental degradation.
"Obviously we won't solve all our social and environmental problems in one week," Redner says. "But people can make a world of difference in a week. And if we follow up by learning and doing a bit more every week, we can have a tremendous impact." Redner hopes that World Week participants will do that by acting on the Bible's admonition to "provoke one another to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).
"We can be the difference between life and death, between hope and despair for a lot of people. But getting involved with World Week doesn't just benefit the poor; it helps us.
"We all have a part in us that tends to be isolationist or selfish, that fuels our fear or mistrust," Redner says. "It is very easy to become apathetic or cynical. But part of us cares about others and wants to make a difference in our world. We need to nurture that part. We do that when we participate in something like World Week. We develop the understanding and compassion that God intends for us to have and that makes us more like Christ."