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The following interview with Kay Warren strikes me as insightful, mature and God-honoring:

Warren is executive director of the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, where her husband, Rick, is senior pastor.

Her new book, Dangerous Surrender, tells the story of how she was transformed from a living a comfortable middle-class life as a pastor’s wife and mother to becoming active in the church’s global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Each year, the HIV and AIDS pandemic worsens, despite the many billion of dollars being spent. What are we doing wrong?

We’re not including the church. We won’t ever be able to stop AIDS without the involvement of local churches. The government can try its hardest. They spend billions of dollars. And philanthropists are spending millions and millions of dollars. There’s a lot of money being spent—finally. But without the faith community, I just don’t think it will get accomplished.

What does the local church have to offer in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS?

The church has a distribution network already in place. I can attend these conferences and sit, and they’ll say, “What about orphans? There’s millions and millions of orphans. What can we do about all of the orphans?” I’m in the back of the room raising my hand going, “The church. The church.”

The church has to care and can take care of orphans. The church can be a distribution center for medication and for helping people having peer counseling who can help people remember to take their medication. It sounds so simple, but that one act alone, having another person who will call and say, “Hey, did you take your medication today?” can extend a person’s life. The church has the moral authority to ask people to make behavior changes. Governments and private sector cannot do that.
There are six things churches can do:

1. They can care for and support the sick.

2. They can encourage people to get tested or [they can] actually become testing centers themselves.

3. They can unleash volunteers.

4. They can reduce the stigma. When the church says it’s not a sin to be sick, it changes the way everybody in the community looks at people who are HIV positive.

5. The church can promote God’s standards of behavior and ask for behavior change.

6. The church can actually come alongside people who are sick and be those treatment coaches, if you will, that encourage them to take their medication.

None of those things cost any money.

What is the most effective means to stimulate church leaders’ interest in this area of fighting HIV? It feels like the problem is 5,000 miles away.

Read more….

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