Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Energy crisis an evangelism opportunity

Energy prices are sapping the life-blood out of the poorer among us. In this situation are grand opportunities for local churches to minister and lead many to faith in Jesus Christ. Consider Harry Jackson, Jr.'s bullet points.

Median-income families devote about a nickel on every dollar of income to energy costs, while poor families must devote as much as 50 cents on their dollar.

• High-energy prices are one of the single biggest drivers of homelessness.

• The nation's low-income population pays three to seven times more on energy than non-low income households.

• In order to cope with higher home energy and gasoline costs, 70 percent of households have reduced food purchases; 30 percent reduced purchases of medicine and 20 percent changed plans for their own or their children’s education.

• Eight percent of households with incomes between $33,500 and $55,000 have had their electricity shut off this year due to non-payment.

Rural counties in the South and West are hit hardest. Families in many southern counties, and several in Wyoming, are spending 10 to 15 percent of their income on fuel.

• Escalating energy prices have a disproportionate impact on the elderly. In a recent survey, more than two-thirds of people 65 and older said that the recent rise in gas prices has caused them a great deal or a fair amount of financial hardship. Given their median household income is less than $30,000 a year seniors have been forced to make significant changes to their daily schedules and spending habits.

• Rising gasoline prices have severely affected the volunteer base, which serves the poor and needy. Meals on Wheels reports that 58 percent of its centers have “lost volunteers due to gas prices” and 48.3 percent reported that “increases in gas prices had forced them to eliminate meal delivery routes or consolidate meal services”

• The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging reported that over 73 percent of agencies said it is more difficult to retain volunteers and over 74 percent said it is more difficult to recruit volunteers.

Source: Harry Jackson, Jr.