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World Vision President Calls on Evangelical Churches to Participate in Fight Against HIV/AIDS

June 15, 2004

Too many churches "loo[k] the other way" when it comes to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, Richard Stearns, president of the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, said at a recent prayer breakfast in Los Angeles to discuss the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reports. At the meeting of evangelical pastors, Stearns said that stigma and judgment associated with the HIV/AIDS-related issues of sexual activity and morality have slowed churches' responses to the disease, according to the Times. "We're challenging the churches to be in the front lines of compassion and to get involved because this is very much a church issue," Stearns said, urging pastors to work with World Vision to help AIDS orphans and HIV-positive people in Africa. According to World Vision officials, Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, Calif., has "heeded the call," the Times reports. Emmanuel Reformed adopted the village of Sithobella, Swaziland, where approximately 40% of the population is HIV-positive. Congregation members have sponsored 120 children in the village at a monthly cost of $30 per child. The funds help meet the nutritional, health care and educational needs of the children, the Times reports. Stearns said, "In 100 years, the only lens that historians will use for the 21st century will be AIDS. Our grandchildren will ask, 'Where were you when 100 million [people] died?'" Emmanuel Reformed Pastor Rev. Bob Johnson said he is optimistic that the "entire evangelical community" will respond to the global HIV/AIDS crisis, according to the Times (Kang, Los Angeles Times, 6/12).

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