Christians Helping to End Global Child Deaths Due to the Promise Gap Is Alternative to the Thanos Solution, empty tomb®, inc. Research Shows

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Research at empty tomb®, inc. offers a real-world alternative to the Thanos solution in Avengers: Infinity War.

According to empty tomb® research, there’s no valid reason for these children’s deaths. It is possible to help more of these children.

In the 2018 movie, Avengers: Infinity War, the enemy Thanos seeks power to solve what he sees as not only global but universal population overcrowding. He sees his solution as more fair than allowing the poor to die who cannot afford food or other necessaries. He plans a solution where he kills both rich and poor people, leaving planets livable for those who survive.

The movie works to portray Thanos as a monster. [Spoiler: Seeing, for example, the teenage Groot become one of the casualties of Thanos’ power helps to reinforce that idea.]

Outside movie theaters, there’s a real-world reality going on that is uncomfortably similar to Thanos’ idea. Children under five are dying around the world from preventable causes. Two of the biggest causes of death are pneumonia and diarrhea, both of which have solutions.

Are these deaths an unfortunate reality which cannot be changed? Or are these children dying as part of an unspoken theory of population control, from the Thanos school of thinking? Do people think these children have to die to leave room for the rest of us?

According to empty tomb® research, there’s no valid reason for these children’s deaths. It is possible to help more of these children. In fact, the church in the U.S. is in position to make a difference in Jesus’ name. Before going further, though, here are a few overview facts.

1.    Progress has already been made. Led by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, and various world governments, an impact has already been made on the number of little children dying before their fifth birthdays. The rate in 1990 was 91 children dying for every 1,000 live births. By 2015, the number was down to 43 for every 1,000 live births.

2.    Yet, goals set in 1990 and 2000 by world leaders were not met by 2015, given the actual Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) was 43 rather than the target goal of 33 per 1,000 live births.

3.    According to an empty tomb calculation, the difference between the actual 2015 U5MR of 43 and the goal U5MR of 33 meant that 1.3 million children under the age of five died in 2015 who would have been alive had the goal been reached.

These facts do not address the issue of overpopulation that was so important to the fictional Thanos. Note that both UNICEF and the Gates Foundation cite demographic research which shows: As the child-death rate goes down, the birth rate goes down faster.

So helping children reach their fifth birthdays actually is an effective counter to overpopulation trends.

Still, a question to be addressed is, can the rest of the world even afford to solve the causes of death in these children around the world?

According to empty tomb research, church people could accelerate the reduction of the U5MR if they want to. The church has the moral mandate from its Leader, Jesus Christ, who not only says “Let the little children come unto me” (Matt. 19:14), but also “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). In the present application, if someone does not want their own child to die, they can assume their global neighbor feels the same.

In addition, churches already have distribution channels and personnel in place in many of the countries that could make use of special assistance to meet the U5MR reduction goal.

Still, a key factor in helping these children is whether the solutions are affordable. If so many other groups have not been able to reach the U5MR reduction goals, who can?

On a practical level, 70% of the U.S. population identifies as “Christian.” This 70% controls, through their incomes, an estimated $7.7 trillion, the equivalent of the third largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. The two larger GDPs are those of the entire U.S., at $19 trillion, and China, at $12 trillion.

One working estimate of the cost to reduce the U5MR is $5 billion more a year. If church members, which is a smaller number than those identifying as “Christian” in the U.S., decided to provide the $5 billion, it would cost them, on average, $26 a year.

Here are some other numbers to put that $5 billion into perspective. No doubt, the 70% of the U.S. population that identifies as “Christian” probably also contributes to this spending.

  •     $91 billion: The 2016 video game industry.
  •     $9.4 billion: The at-home coffee market in 2017.
  •     $18.2 billion: The amount Americans spent on Valentine’s Day in 2017.
  •     $14.1 billion: The estimated cost of 2018 Super Bowl game-day parties.
  •     $9.1 billion: The estimated amount Americans spent on Halloween in 2017.

Numbers like these, according to empty tomb, inc., demonstrate that the problem is not the cost of helping, in Jesus’ name, to reduce the U5MR. The problem seems to be one of organization and mobilization of church people.

As one strategy, empty tomb plans to relaunch its Mission Match® Web site, with a focus on 40 countries.

The Mission Match effort of empty tomb will offer Matching Contributions to congregations that apply to carry out mission projects. To qualify for a Matching Contribution, the congregation’s mission project will target one of the 14 causes of death in children under age 5 in one of 40 countries.

One goal of Mission Match is to encourage churches across the theological spectrum to help, in Jesus’ name, close the “Promise Gap.”

In 1990 and again in 2000, over 180 world governments “promised the children of the world” to reduce the global Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR), according to UNICEF. By 2015, according to a UNICEF and WHO report, although progress had been made toward reducing child deaths, the goal had not been reached.

The difference between the goal and actual rate of reduction is labeled the Promise Gap by empty tomb.

Further, 40 countries are behind the curve in the level of progress needed to meet the next goals set to reduce their U5MRs, according to an empty tomb analysis. It is these 40 countries that will be the focus of empty tomb’s Mission Match when it relaunches this summer.

empty tomb sees Mission Match as offering an alternative to the uncomfortably possible Thanos school of thinking, with real-world application.

The launch goal is for the Mission Match Web site to be up by midsummer. Congregations will be able to apply for Matching Contributions on the Web. Also, individuals who want to support Mission Match, and its positive agenda, will be able to donate to the pool of funds offered as Matching Contributions. If an individual wants to donate now to Mission Match, designated donations to Mission Match can be made through the empty tomb Web site.

The empty tomb research discussion on trends in church giving and membership is available in The State of Church Giving through 2015: Understanding the Times (Champaign, IL: empty tomb, inc., 2017), the 27th edition in the series. The book is available through Wipf and Stock Customer Service by phone at 541-344-1528 or orders(at), or through

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Sylvia Ronsvalle
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