Because I like to read a lot of different things and pay a lot of attention to the news, I end up with a wealth of facts, figures and bits and pieces. Sometimes, this data has a point–it ends up in a sermon or adding another piece to some other issue I am thinking about or all by itself, it explains something else. But more often than not, these facts and figures just sit there in my brain, occupying memory cells and often sticking in place much better than other, more important things like the name of the person I just met who would like some pastoral counselling.
There is another use for these random numbers–I get to throw them out at random intervals in conversation or I get to use them when I am a bit stuck about something to write for this blog. So, here are some totally random numbers that I have picked up over the years. Some I have verified, some I can’t guarantee and some may sound fishy. Some come from reliable sources–but the sources don’t stick in my mind as much as the numbers. Some, I have no idea where they came from but here they are:
- There are currently an estimated 30 million slaves in the world. While the majority are in faraway places, there are a significant number in North America–think poorly paid transient agricultural workers and sex trade workers.
- Several sources suggest there are something like 40 million refugees in the world. Refugees are people who fled their home land primarily because of armed conflict but also because of drought, famine or some other natural disaster. There are also millions more people who had to flee their homes but because they are still in their own country, they are not counted as refugees.
- Something like 80% of the world’s churches have less than 100 people in attendance at worship–and 50% of the world’s churches have less than 50 in worship.
- About 2 billion people in the world suffer from hunger. They either don’t get enough food or they don’t get the right balance of food.
- About 2 billion people in the world are overweight or obese. They get too much food or too much of the wrong kinds of food.
- At one hospital in an urban Canadian setting, two people were diagnosed with scurvy in one year. Neither of them was poor and neither was a 17th century sailor, the more traditional victims of scurvy.
- In the part of Canada where I live, 20% of children come from homes that are too poor to provide the kids with breakfast, meaning that the majority of schools in our area have developed breakfast programs.
- The Bible has been and continues to be the best-selling book of all time. My admittedly biased observation is that is also the most unread book of all time.
- A conservative estimate suggests that 20% of males and 40% of females have been sexually abused before they reached adulthood.
- Something like 75-80% of the North American population suffers from anxiety or depression.
- According to some sources, the amount of money spent on armaments around the world in a year could effectively end poverty and hunger forever.
That is probably enough. If I go on, things will probably get depressing–I seem to remember a lot more depressing and gloomy statistics than positive ones. That may be because positive numbers tend not to be reported in the places I get my numbers from. It may be because I have a somewhat dark memory process–I recognize that sometimes, I am out of step with my culture.
These numbers that float around in my head do one thing. They help me see why my faith is so important to me. While there are some really great things in the world, there is a lot that isn’t right. And for me at least, the source of hope comes from my faith. My faith tells me that in spite of the dismal numbers, God is at work. And even more, he has a place for me in that work. My faith tells me there is hope both here and now and in the afterlife because of God and his love and grace.
May the peace of God be with you.