Louis and I just returned from a 3 week trip. After spending about 2.5 weeks in Oregon/Washington, we stopped in Indianapolis, IN for the Christian Community Development Association (www.ccda.org) National Conference. We took a way a ton from the 4 days we were there; and it’s going to take us a while to unpack it all. However, there is one group of stats that really stuck with me, from the workshop titled by Helping Those You Serve Find and Keep Meaningful Employment, conducted by Jobs For Life (www.jobsforlife.org). I attended this workshop, because we are in the process of implementing their program, Powered for Life in the near future….but, more to come on that later…on with the startling stats.
Here are just a few stats…
- Poverty – 1 out of 7 people live in poverty in the US (46 million). 1 out of 5 children live in poverty (US Census). Most people are poor in the United States because they either do not work or work too few hours to move themselves and their children out of poverty (Brookings Institute)
- Domestic Violence - An extensive report by the National Institute of Justice found that the rate of violence against women increases as the male unemployment increases.
- Divorce - Financial stress and pressure not only impacts businesses but is often the leading reason couples file for divorce according to the Institute for Family Studies.
If you don’t see a need for job and life skills training from the stats above, let me share these. The presenters then provided the following summary from the research study called Meaningful Differences. I hadn’t heard of it before, but found a ton of info by googling it.
|Avg cumulative # of words heard by the age of 3||30 million||13 million|
|“Business” talk (correction, direction, instruction)||10 million||10 million|
|Other (including supportive, encouragement, affirmations)||20 million||3 million|
|RESULT||I am valuable.||I am worthless.|
The study has many more details…but after reading up on it, I found these quite meaningful indeed. Children hear a lot more words if they come from a family where someone is working, and they aren’t on welfare. In addition, the types of words spoken significantly impact the child’s future. Both groups receive the same number of directive/business/’get ‘er done words. In poverty/welfare homes, only 23% of the words spoken are supportive, encouraging and affirming. In what was labeled Professional homes, 67% of the words are positive in nature. Yowza!
The end result becomes…the child grows up thinking they are either valuable or worthless. The child (1 out of 5 children) grows up to think, ‘I am worthless’, ‘I am good for nothing’, ‘I do nothing right’, etc.
What can be done? How can we change this? What role does the church play in this? We can’t count on the teachers to make up for the loss of language skills and emotional psyche. How can we speak words of joy and hope into this? Words that speak…’You were created in God’s Image’, ‘You are unique’, ‘You are valuable’, and ‘You were created to work’ (Genesis 1:27-28) and….it was VERY good! (Genesis 1:31)
Dr. John Perkins said “the best welfare program is a job” during one of our morning Bible studies. This too has stuck with me. This is where Jobs for Life comes in. Thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo, we purchased the biblically based program, Powered for Life a couple of months ago. At the request of some community friends, Louis and I, along with our friends, are preparing to train, prepare and equip young people to find and maintain a job. We will be looking for people to help! People who are willing to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the lives of the youth of our city. People who are willing to employ them. People who will train and instruct them. So…stay tuned….more to come! Organizational meetings will be coming soon.
If you are interested in participating after prayerful consideration, please feel free to contact me!