07 August 2008

The power of numbers

It's hard to blink past this bit:

"If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world."

This from Steven Curtis Chapman, reflecting on the beauty of adoption through his and his wife's journey. About two months now after having lost their youngest to an automobile accident in their driveway, the family is appearing on various television shows this week to talk about their hope amid grief. I can hardly count how many blogs I read have linked to the "Good Morning America" interview posted on youtube.com.

The pater familias appears again tonight, this time on "Larry King Live," so I gather this piece on CNN.com introduces that interview. Watch for it, you who have cable; I'll look for it online afterwards. Maybe he'll repeat this call. It's a stunning number: if all those adopted by the Redeemer would care for but one. . . .


Micah said...

These are stunning numbers in one sense, but they may also be a bit misleading. The burden is probably much greater than 7% indicates.

It is estimated that 1/3 of the world's 6,000,000,000 population are Christian (the 2bn quoted).

It is also estimated that 2/3 of the world's population is between age 15 and 64. 1/3 of the world is absolutely not in the position to adopt readily. We can probably assume that half of the world residents 15 to 64 are also, by age alone, not in a position to adopt or care for an orphan on a permanent basis.

That leaves us with 1/3 of the world population in a position to act. We should probably presume that the demographics of Christianity are very similar and therefore 1/3 of Christians are in a position to adopt or care permanently for orphans, but that leads us to the next difficulty.

Not all people are at a station in life where they can readily adopt or care for orphans. For those in wealthy nations it often costs great sums of money and those in poorer nations often have little resource with which to work.

I don't know how to account for the cost burden of this care-taking, but it should also be noted that most "feasible" situations occur with two parents, thereby splitting the eligible care-givers in half. I don't know whether referenced quote accounts for this problem, but seeing organizations quote 140,000,000+ orphans I would presume this has not been yet accounted for.

That leaves us with 2bn Christians, approximately 1/3 are apt by age to care for orphans with permanence. Without properly accounting for the burdens of being a single-parent or earning a relatively low income, we're already at 1 in every 2.5 Christian families (rough estimate) that must bear the burden for each child.

An American can assume that the process of adoption by itself will cost $10,000, and while that is no small sum of money, it is achievable by every American family, maybe even twice. I don't know exactly whether every American Christian should end up liquidating their 401k(s) for world missions, but if we're spending our life saving up for later, we'll end up missing the whole show now.

I wonder if quoting 7% to carry the burden is a little light-weight. The real burden may be too much for our self-absorbed culture to handle.

Jen said...

"The real burden may be too much for our self-absorbed culture to handle."

The statistic as Chapman gave it seems stunning; this more accurate interpretation is more stunning still.

After all, if it would require so little, why have we not done so? Because, in point of fact, it costs so much.