Earlier this year, my friend Doug Nichols, founder and director of ACTION International Ministries, a great missions organization, sent these humbling statistics about needy children worldwide. As you and I pray and consider what to do with our lives and resources, I hope God will use these facts to touch our hearts. (By the way, this Sunday, November 8, is Orphan Sunday, an opportunity to rouse your church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan. Learn more at www.orphansunday.org)
HIV/AIDS and Disease
Over 38 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with over 2.3 million children under 15 living with the disease. Every day, more than 1,000 children are newly infected.
At least 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, most in sub-Saharan, Africa. It is estimated that a child loses a parent to AIDS-related causes every 14 seconds. By 2010, the number of children orphaned by AIDS globally is expected to exceed 25 million.
War and Effects of War
It is estimated that at least 250,000 young people under 18 are exploited as child soldiers around the world.
Over 218 million children, aged 5-17, are engaged in child labor throughout the world.
At least 126 million find themselves in the worst forms of child labor: slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, and other forced labor. Girls from northern India have been sold to families from the Middle East as home slaves. Many children are unseen, laboring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations. Many are involved in trafficking of these young children to work as bonded slaves.
Over 1.8 million children are trapped in sex trades: prostitution, pornography, and other illicit activities.
The sexual exploitation of women and children is the third largest illicit industry on the planet (just behind the sale of illegal arms and drugs). Even though it is lucrative for many, it is life-shattering for others!
More than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. In total, 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars a day. In these poverty-challenged areas, the population of children is often close to 50%.
Some estimate that 100 million kids live on the street, but they’re nearly impossible to count. ACTION and others estimate that there may be up to 160 million who try to exist on the streets with no parents, no love, no care, no food, and no compassion.
That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong. — Augustine
Obedience to the Great Commission has more consistently been poisoned by affluence than by anything else. — Ralph Winter
Caring for the poor and needy is a sobering responsibility for which we will all be held accountable: "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" (Prov. 21:13). Helping them is not a peripheral issue. May God one day say of us what he said of King Josiah: "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jer. 22:16).
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.