African AIDS Crisis: A Job for Churches?
April 18, 2003
A new awakening may be on the horizon for the church community to respond to the AIDS crisis in Africa with greater empathy, vigor and funding. This month, World Vision, a global Christian relief and development agency, launches a U.S. campaign and 15-city tour across America to mobilize support -- especially among evangelical churches -- for those affected by HIV/AIDS.Adapted from:
Many Christian churches have long been advocates on poverty and development issues for Africa. A few have responded to the AIDS crisis but, for many churches, the response has been slow in coming. Last year, a World Vision survey gauging U.S. support for AIDS orphans showed that only 5 percent of Americans would "definitely" donate money. The U.S. public's general willingness to address HIV/AIDS showed 11 percent were supportive, 27 percent indifferent, and 40 percent unsupportive. Evangelical Christians were even less likely to support AIDS orphans -- only 3 percent -- and were among those least likely to support AIDS causes.
Prominent minister Bruce Wilkinson, author of "The Prayer of Jabez," has moved his family to South Africa, where he works with local churches to reverse the HIV infection rate. And the National Council of Churches' Church World Service is offering vocational and other training to Rwandan children who are heads of households.
With its tour, World Vision hopes to encourage churchgoers to get personally and politically involved in stemming the scourge of AIDS. Rich Stearns, who recently took the helm at World Vision, visited the Rikai district of Uganda, where 60,000 children have lost parents to AIDS. "This was the greatest tragedy I had ever seen, of a scale that is unimaginable," recalled Stearns. "Back in the US, my question was, 'Why is no one talking about this?'" he said. "I would argue that HIV/AIDS is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction at work in the world today," he said, "and the stakes are just too high" to wait.
Christian Science Monitor
04.10.03; Jane Lampman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.