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Just Do The Math

Most people don’t love math. But the fact that you have read beyond the title tells me that you are at least open to a simple math equation. Let’s play a little math game. Our first part of the equation is Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the country of Haiti. Things that would fall into this […]

Most people don’t love math. But the fact that you have read beyond the title tells me that you are at least open to a simple math equation.

Let’s play a little math game.

Our first part of the equation is Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the country of Haiti. Things that would fall into this category are missionaries, relief groups, educational groups, microeconomic groups, etc. Largely these NGOs are religious missions.

UKaid being unloaded and distributed in Haiti from the Royal Fleet Auxillary ship Largs Bay

Prior to the earthquake of January 2010 that struck the country of Haiti, there were 3,000 NGOs there. The number of NGOs in Haiti now 9 years later has grown to over 10,000.

There are more NGOs per capita in Haiti than any other place on earth.

Okay now to let’s continue with our math equation.

Approximately 11,000,000 people live in Haiti and there are 10,000 NGOs there. Let’s say that there are on average 10 people working for each NGO… That makes 100,000 people working in Haiti to reach the 11,000,000. Some simple division would tell us that there is one person (from an NGO) there for every 110 Haitians.

Many of these NGOs that are religious mission groups are funded by churches in America and abroad. Let’s focus solely on churches in America. This may be a bold assumption by I would venture to say that at least half of all the churches in America support at least one mission in Haiti. I know that my home church has supported multiple.

If there are approximately 380,000 churches in America and half of those churches, 190,000, in some way or another support missions in Haiti simple division would tell us that there would be 1 church in America reaching out to every 58 Haitians.

We can further our math to see the prevalence of mission efforts in Haiti.

If you believe 2018 statistics on church attendance it would tell us that nearly 33% of our population claim to be regular attendees at religious services. Big if, I know. We aren’t going to argue the definition of a regular attendee. Let’s just run with the numbers and do the math. 33% of the population of the United States of America, 327,167,434, is exactly 107,965,253 people. Remember we said that we are going to assume that about half the churches in America support at least one mission in Haiti. So let’s take half of the 33% that are regular attendees at church. That would give you 53,982,627 people in those 190,000 churches that are actively reaching out to Haiti through their local church. Let’s drill down on this math. That would mean that there are 5 American people reaching out to every 1 Haitian person through their local church. Wow! 5 to 1.

The math is overwhelming. Americans love the idea of meeting real needs and reaching Haitians for Jesus. The generosity of Americans is always something to celebrate. Let me stop and say that is awesome!

Please don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that Americans should not reach out to Haiti. For a nation that is steeped in voodoo, they need all the Jesus they can get!

I am just saying that the math tells me that Haiti may have reached a point of saturation. In fact, there are some that would say that this over-saturation has actually slowed the recovery of the nation of Haiti. Corruption, lack of accountability, NGOs not working with the Haitian government, and other items make this conversation a complicated one. That is an argument for another day.

Now let me share with you some more math that is even more overwhelming.

Did you know that there are well over 1,000,000,000 people living in the world with a disability? Yes, a billion plus people. This makes people living with a disability the largest people group in the entire world.

It is the only people group that crosses all lines of geography, gender, race, religion, socioeconomics, and so on. No other people group bridges all of these categories. In fact, what is amazing about this people group is that it exists in every community of the planet Earth.

In comparison to the mission efforts to Haiti can you guess how many organizations or people are intentionally reaching out to people affected by disability, that billion plus people?

While it is a bit harder to quantify there are only a handful of ministry organizations that specialize in reaching out to people affected by disability. This is no doubt an emerging ministry. And the math tells us that it deserves much more attention than it has received.

Statistics show that people affected by disability desire to attend church at the same rates as others but do so at a much lower rate because of barriers that exist. Yes, there are clear accessibility issues. These accessibility barriers exist in large part because religious institutions were given exemption from the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) that was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Larger than the physical accessibility barriers that exist are the attitudinal barriers that must be overcome.

Statistics also show that between 80-90% of churches in America have absolutely no intentional outreach or programming designed for people affected by disability. That means out of the approximate 380,000 churches in America as few as 38,000 churches in America are efforting to reach out to the 1,000,000,000 plus people in the world.

That means that every church would need to reach a minimum of 26,316 people affected by disability.

If you break it down by church attendance the numbers are staggering again. Again, let’s assume the statistics are correct. 33% of Americans report being regular church attendees. If you take 10% of that population that attend churches that have some form of a Disability Ministry at their church that would give you approximately 10,796,525 people within those churches. Now assuming that 100% of the church members are on fire for reaching out to the billion plus people affected by a disability that would mean that everyone person in those churches would be responsible for reaching out to 93 people living with a disability.

That would be a 1 (American churchgoer) to 93 (people affected by disability) ratio. This is a huge task. Far greater than the 5 (Americans churchgoers) to 1 (Haitian) ratio. The thought of reaching one person for Christ is at times daunting let alone having to reach 93 people for Christ.

Again I am not saying that people should not be passionate about meeting the needs of people in Haiti and sharing Jesus with them. What I am saying is, imagine if people in the American church were as passionate about meeting the needs of the disability community worldwide and sharing Jesus with them? What a difference the church could make.

People affected by disability need Jesus as much as anyone else.

There are so few organizations trying to champion this mission effort. What Jesus talked about with the harvest being plentiful but the workers few (Luke 10) could not be more relevant than this conversation.

For example, Ability Ministry is the only Restoration Movement organization that is reaching out to the world’s disability community. 1 organization reaching out to the 1,000,000,000 plus people. Ability Ministry works with churches empowering and equipping them to reach their local disability community for Jesus. They do this not only in America but also worldwide.

Ability Ministry and other like-minded ministries have a huge mountain to climb. Ability Ministry needs your support as they try to reach this people group for Jesus. Everyone in this people group needs Jesus just as much as every Haitian.

Jesus is for ALL people. All people need Jesus.


Originally posted March 7, 2019

About Ryan Wolfe:

It is Ryan's passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan's commitment to life and ministry.
Read more by Ryan Wolfe

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We desire to see the Church make room for all people affected by disability. To fully participate. To fully partner. To fully lead.

We exist to equip and empower the 25% of the population with a disability, their families, and their churches to become who God has created them to be.
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