In rural Brazil, a group of mothers met for a health class. The missionary was talking about diarrhea. If not treated, the baby loses fluids and the soft spot on the baby’s head sinks in. One mother offered: “That happened to my baby in the morning and she was dead at night.”
Is there anyone hoping to make a child happy this Christmas morning who doesn’t grieve with this mother in Brazil? But what can anyone do about a problem so overwhelming?
empty tomb, inc., thinks Christians need not get overwhelmed. Instead, they can get organized.
The first step, according to empty tomb, inc., is for readers of this press release to say a special Christmas prayer for the children around the world who are facing deathly conditions.
The prayer: May church leaders in the U.S. help millions of children around the world who will die if no one cares enough to get organized.
The answer to this prayer will probably involve at least one church leader calling one other church leader to get things moving.
Fact 1: One of the largest identity groups in the U.S. is “Christian.” Perhaps 150-220 million Americans choose that label, according to different sources.
Fact 2: Church networks and Christian nonprofits are already on the frontlines where the children are dying. No new distribution systems are needed to help the children. These groups already on the frontlines need more money to help more children.
Fact 3: Timely help can make a big difference. For example, Figure 24 of The State of Church Giving through 2011 (23rd edition, 2013) shows before and after photos, 11 days apart, of the difference frontline treatment made for a seven-month old baby (see below for link).
Fact 4: World leaders set the goal in 1990 and again in 2000 to reduce the number of deaths due to preventable poverty conditions in children under age 5. The goal target date is 2015. However, progress was behind schedule as the deadline approaches. As a result, in 2014, the story of the baby in Brazil will be repeated an estimated 2.3 million times around the world. In fact, two of the biggest killers are diarrhea and pneumonia.
Fact 5: According to estimates, an additional $5 billion a year could help close the gap between the number of children dying now and the goal number set by world leaders. $5 billion a year is a lot of money. But power results when each Christian does a little and it’s then put together.
Idea: Church leaders could ask 100 million of the Christians in the U.S. to give $50 a year more, through their own churches or Christian organizations of their choice, to help reach the goal of reducing child deaths.
Question: Who can mobilize 100 million Christians for the common purpose of helping to keep more children from dying? Christians are in many different churches, working through many different distribution systems. Yet, if more Christians could get the big picture, they could unleash power through their oneness. They could help these children in Jesus’ name by each donating $50 a year through their own distribution channels. But who will ask them to do that?
Answer: A movement to keep more children from dying could start with one church leader making a phone call to one other church leader. Church leaders write lots of books and go to many conferences. However, this movement needs to move from the idea stage to the real stage. And things happen because people talk to each other. So, to start, one church leader has to believe Jesus’ promises enough to pick up the phone and talk to one other church leader about this idea.
Who is that church leader who will make the first phone call to get the ball rolling? There are some possible candidates. God may choose someone not on the “dream team” that empty tomb named in The State of Church Giving through 2011. Still, the people on that list have already shown themselves to be national leaders of influence. They include:
Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek, South Barrington, Illinois, sponsor of the annual Global Leadership Summit, and board chair of the Willow Creek Association.
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and also the Billy Graham Association.
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, past president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and past chair of the board of Catholic Relief Services.
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, former general secretary and currently serving as associate for ecumenical relations, of the Reformed Church in America, and a founding energy in Christian Churches Together.
Eileen Lindner, former Associate General Secretary for Christian Unity in the office of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. General Secretary, and NCC Deputy General Secretary and Director of Research and Planning; currently editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA, having written about the “five giants” of global need.
Representatives from two other parts of the body of Christ in the U.S. would be very important in such a movement. Those two parts are:
African-American Protestants. One nationally visible leader is T.D. Jakes. Another possibility would be a representative from the Conference of National Black Churches.
The Orthodox Church. Because of its structure, it may be appropriate to contact His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, for a recommendation, if it is not clear from other ecumenical settings who would be a likely leader located in the U.S.
More background and the church member giving and membership research behind these ideas are available in The State of Church Giving through 2011. Chapter 8 of that book is available for download at www.emptytomb.org/leadershelpchildren.html, including the baby photos.