AIDS conference spurs ministry abroad

By December 3, 2007

USA (MNN) — Christians will be taking more of a leadership role in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, at least far those who attended the third annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church last week. The Purpose Driven Ministries' event at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California attracted some 1,500 Christians from around the world.

In Russia today, HIV infections rates are approaching the same rates as African nations. Ukraine leads the industrialized world in HIV infections.

Russian Ministries hosted a delegation of top denominational leaders from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia. Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says, "10 years ago, nobody paid any attention to it; five year ago nobody was talking about it. All of a sudden, everybody started talking about statistics — HIV/AIDS growth was about 17 percent. This is huge."

However, the church didn't know how to respond. "There's lots of stigma, lack of information, lack of training and so on," says Rakhuba. "So these church leaders realized that they have to be involved; but how? That's why they came to Saddleback to learn."

According to Rakhuba, "For three days there were lots of training workshops that related to this area, and our people went to many of them. At the same time we had quite a few discussions with others, exchanging experiences."

Rukhuba says the national church leaders now understand something about HIV/AIDS. "This is an opportunity for us to go out in the world and minister, to show the compassion of Christ, to show them love. But at the same time we need to use it for an evangelism opportunity in terms of prevention."

He asks Christians to pray. "We have to pray that whatever we've learned here, they can take it back, contextualize into their own reality and start mobilizing their congregations."

Pray that those who attended the summit will be able to use what they've learned to lead many people to Christ. Pray too that local leaders will allow Christians to help in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS victims.

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