Will COVID-19 Grief Help Church in U.S. Stop Neglecting Ongoing Under-5 Child Deaths, Asks empty tomb Mission Match

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The tragedy of COVID-19 can help church people understand the need to address, in Jesus' name, under-5 child deaths from treatable causes. Will they see it?

This ongoing pattern of children's deaths does not have the shock-value that COVID-19 brought home to most Americans in 2020.

The 230,000 deaths in the U.S. through 10/31/2020 from COVID-19 are a national tragedy. The grief for those directly connected and the country as a whole is real.

Will this sad experience open the "eyes of the hearts" (Ephesians 1:18) of church people in the U.S. to see the ongoing deaths of children under age 5 each year around the world?

Or will the church continue to neglect the fact that over a million children are dying each year from treatable causes like diarrhea?

That's the question being asked by empty tomb®, inc., and its project, Mission Match®.

The Promise Gap.

This ongoing pattern of children's deaths does not have the shock-value that COVID-19 brought home to most Americans in 2020.

Instead, these child deaths have been going on in the background for years. World leaders have been working for decades now on what James Grant, then Executive Director of UNICEF, called the "silent emergency."

World leaders "promised" to reduce the rate of these under-5 deaths in 1990, and in 2000, and again in 2015. And although progress has been made, the target reduction goals have not been met.

The difference between the target reduction goal and the actual Under-5 Mortality Rate is called the "Promise Gap" by empty tomb.

In that Promise Gap, an estimated 38 million children have died from 1990 through 2018. In 2018 alone:

  • In 12 African countries, with a population about 80% that of the U.S., 289,000 children died from treatable causes that year.
  • In Nigeria, with a population about 60% that of the U.S., 463,000 children under the age of five died of treatable causes that year.

Why has the church in the U.S. not been outraged by this ongoing tragedy?

Why the Church?

The church in the U.S. has not put the full force of its capability toward ending, in Jesus' name, this ongoing grief. Instead the church has neglected "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Matthew 2:18 quoting Jer. 31:15).

  • The church in the U.S. has the moral imperative from her Leader, Jesus Christ, to care about the little children.
  • The church in the U.S. continues to have one of the best frontline distribution systems, and also communication systems to bring the need home to church members across the U.S.
  • And, as the forthcoming book from empty tomb, The State of Church Giving through 2018, again documents, church members have the financial potential to respond.

What is lacking among church people in the U.S. is the vision to put potential into action.

What Can Be Done?

The question is whether church leaders will point the way and focus the COVID-19 grief into channeling the comfort Christians receive from God into comforting others (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

Many national church offices already have projects in place that are working in areas where these child deaths occur. But these projects may be underfunded.

Another tool available to help reduce child deaths is empty tomb's Mission Match®. Congregations can apply for a Matching Contribution. The congregation's mission project needs to be designed to address, in Jesus' name, these under-5 child deaths in one of 40 countries.

empty tomb's 30th edition in the series, The State of Church Giving through 2018, is scheduled to be published later in November 2020. The book documents ongoing patterns of church giving and membership, analyzes the latest data available about global needs, including the child deaths, and presents data about the financial potential of the church in the U.S. to make a difference in Jesus' name.

More information about empty tomb's Mission Match, and the availability of Matching Contributions, can be found at https://missionmatch.org.

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Sylvia Ronsvalle
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