My buddy Mark posted this a few weeks back on Facebook and I thought it was absolutely fantastic and incredibly encouraging. With his permission I am re-posting his article. Please read and get stoked! – Bill
When I began working for Compassion in 1985, one of the items we created was a button that simply stated “42,000 a Day.” It was designed as a conversation starter, because at that time, according to the United Nations, there were an average of that many children under the age of five dying from easily preventable causes each and every day. Things like malnutrition, dysentery, typhoid, mumps, malaria, and other diseases that can be cured with the easiest of vaccines, medications, water filters, and simple foods.
The problem was, that even though many of these solutions would cost less than a few dollars in total to administer, and even though there was more than enough food available on the planet to feed everyone, these items were simply not available to the poorest of the poor. And, unfortunately, it is littlest ones who are the most vulnerable.
Imagine taking Wrigley Field and filling it up with children each day that would die for want of such simple cures and basic food and clean water. And then empty it out, and do it again the next day, and the next day after that, and then again, and again, and again for weeks, months, and years on end.
It is quite sobering to ponder.
But I’m not writing this to create a guilt trip. No, I’m actually writing with some of the very best news I have heard in the past twenty-five years. Just last week, The Lancet, a medical journal, announced that the daily average figure for children under the age of five dying of “stupid poverty” (as Bono calls it) has now dropped to 21,000 each day. So, in just a quarter of a century, the combined efforts of so many ministries, health organizations, governments, and individuals has cut this seemingly insurmountable figure in half.
50% fewer infants and toddlers are dying now than when Reagan, Gorbachev, Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi were in office. This huge shift has happened since the time that Michael Jordan was starting his NBA career. In the time since the Live Aid concerts and “We Are the World” video came out, this has happened.
So, now visualize the United Center arena where the Bulls and Blackhawks play, and think about it being filled each day with children who are now strong enough to make it through these critical developmental years and are now living. And do it again tomorrow, and the day after…it amounts to well over 7 million precious kids are smiling, gurgling, crawling, running, jumping, laughing, and even singing now in just the past twelve months alone that would not have made it in 1985.
We are making a huge difference via our investments in prenatal care, infant health, preventive medicines, mosquito nets, child development training, clean water filtration, better crop yields, food distribution, and slowing the incidents of HIV/AIDS. The generosity of the G-8 Nations cancelling much of the developing world’s debt is huge in this so these struggling nations can now invest that money internally that they used to be paying just on the interest of that debt. And, yes, there is improved distribution and less government corruption within these countries. Some developing nations have seen infant mortality rates drop as much as 6% a year during this time.
We need to celebrate this God-breathed moment where it is starting to become clear that we are making a difference.
If you have been giving and serving in these areas over the past decades, take heart that you effort has not been in vain. If you sponsor a child, you have helped significantly in the life of one that has had a ripple effect, I assure you, on others around them. If you have gone on mission trips to help teach and build, you have been a significant encouragement and example. If you have made donations for food, water, and services to assist in rebuilding and reorienting lives, then you can take heart in knowing that all of these little rivulets are flowing together to make significant rivers of change.
Pause a moment to give thanks. Send a note of congratulations to those who have been working diligently for these improvements. And rejoice with the many who are alive now that might not have made it before.
Of course, there are still huge obstacles to overcome. The gap between the richest and the poorest is widening. There are now over 1 billion on this planet “living” on less than $1.00 a day (that’s 3 times the population of the U.S.). About half of the world’s 6.5 billion people live on just $2.00 per day.
Dr. Mickey Chopra, the chief of health for Unicef, said that could easily be reversed, because the underlying poverty in many countries has not changed. “If we don’t continue to do these interventions and fund these works, we’ll start to see an increase again,” he warns.
But we are making progress. The partnerships that are in place are yielding great fruit, and there is much more to harvest if we do not grow weary in well doing. Please keep praying, working, giving, and spreading the word that we are changing the world…one child at a time.