The loneliest number

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Cold, black numbers. Lines on a chart. Fractions and percentages. This out of that. We humans use statistics for many things. We use them to prove a point. To disprove a point. To justify action or inaction. Evil men in history have used them to justify attempted genocide on entire races of people.

The reality is that statistics can be very useful. They hold no opinion and exude no emotion. They simply provide a way for mankind to understand the state of things in seemingly simple mathematical terms.

But, the same things that make them so useful, also hide sad and terrible truths in some cases. 

As Paul Brodeur put it: “Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off.”

One category of such statistics is those related to the orphan population of the world. Statistics like 150 million, the estimated number of orphan children in the world. I have actually seen this number in a range from 40 million to 150 million.

 It seems that even the statistics have abandoned these children.

 There are other figures like 50%. This figure being the estimated statistic related to how many of the orphans will survive without intervention and outside help. Then there is 1 in 100. The statistic that estimates the number of orphan children, out of 100, who will become a productive member of society without outside help.

The single orphan child out of 100 who will not turn to crime just to survive!

Most of the numbers and statistics come from organizations like UNICEF and are derived from a combination of field reporting and numbers given to them by government entities in charge of the welfare of children. Unfortunately, there are many countries that don’t even know how many children they have, let alone how many are orphaned. Thus, the massive difference in the estimates of 40 versus 150 million.

For many, including me, the big numbers are something I can’t really wrap my head around. It’s just so hard to imagine that there are millions of children out there who have no family caring for them. Millions of lives being needlessly lost and going to waste. It seems as though it is too big of a problem to solve and it would be easy to allow myself to feel as though our work is just a drop in the bucket in the overall scope of things. 

But, I know it’s not. For one simple reason. 

The children we help are not statistics. They are not cold, black numbers on a white background. They are not lines on a chart. They are not millions. They are one life times many millions of lives. Every one of them is a living, breathing, little person. A precious soul and a gift from God. Every one of them has untold potential to be or become something amazing and they deserve the chance to do just that.

They come into this world the same way every one of us has; little hearts beating frantically, lungs breathing air for the first time. They open their eyes to the bright light and start to cry. Already, they are hungry, a sad omen of what’s to come. They are born into a place and time not of their own choosing. Sadly, when born into a culture of poverty, their brand-new life is already in jeopardy. 

Just imagine, right now there is a new-born orphan- to-be, lying in their mother’s arms… and the tears she is crying are not tears of joy… because in her heart she knows she can’t care for this new child. She stares down into the child’s eyes and is overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings of love. Feelings of hopelessness. She too is an orphan and she knows all too well what is to come. 

She already has three other children from two different fathers and the fathers are gone. She has managed to keep them alive the same way she survived as a child. By stealing. By selling herself. The thought of what she has done just to survive makes her feel hollow inside. Ashamed. The thought that it’s all she knows to teach her children makes it even worse and she suddenly feels desperate; even in this moment that should be so joyful.

She is not a statistic. She is a young woman, barely more than a child herself who has just brought another future orphan into the world. She is one life. The new child is one life. 

Look at the picture. These are orphan children from one of our homes. Every one of these children are fed, clothed, educated and loved every day. Every one of them has a Bible and knows Jesus. All, simply because caring people like you, thousands of miles away, chose to act upon their compassion for these children. This is a picture of children who are not just surviving, but thriving. This is a picture of children who will break the cycle of poverty and become loving, caring parents one day. This is a picture of children with a bright future and untold potential.

But without the love of caring people like you, this picture would mean something else altogether. 

Look at the beautiful, young girl in color in the center of the picture.

She is the one life.

Without caring people like you, she is the one child that would have survived out of all the other children in this picture. The rest of these beautiful children would not be with us on this earth. The rest of those precious lives would have been lost forever.

Can you imagine standing in front of these children and having to choose? Can you imagine having to choose which one lives, and therein, all who will perish? It would be impossible to do! 

God did not intend that these children should perish. Their situation is a direct result of the sins of mankind. He loves each and every one of them and has asked us to care for them. He calls this act of compassion “perfect religion.”

With your help, the picture below is the reality for the children in this home in India. 

Without you… it’s the first picture. 

Without you, there would be only one…the loneliest number.

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