USA (MNN) — HIV/AIDS continues to run rampant across the former Soviet Union. The infection rate is astounding. However, Russian Ministries is doing everything they can to help provide the tools needed for the national church to help.
Russian Ministries' Vice President Sergey Rakhuba says they've invited a delegation from the region to attend Purpose Driven Ministry's "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" November 28-30 at Saddleback Church in California.
Rakhuba says government leaders have ignored the problem, but they can't anymore. "In Ukraine there are 4.5 percent growth in HIV/AIDS, when in Russia it's just 2 percent less. So basically we can compare that growth to some African countries."
With infection rates at alarming levels, the church can't ignore the problem. Rakhuba says, "It's not just a behavioral problem; we call it a spiritual or moral issue. And the evangelical church is paying attention to it. The leaders of the church would like to encourage their own congregations to use this opportunity to for evangelism. "
Rakhuba says that's the only way to combat HIV/AIDS in the region. He says that's why a delegation is coming to the conference–"six top leaders from the evangelical denominations that represent about 8,000 churches combined in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova."
Russian Ministries helps train and prepare the next generation church leaders to handle new challenges. "HIV/AIDS is a new challenge. That's the challenge for the new generation, the next generation. So the church leaders have to know what it is. We cannot afford not to pay attention to this problem that is moving into Russia."
According to Rakhuba, HIV/AIDS is like the leprosy of the Bible days. "Those people who have AIDS, who are infected–they are not considered to be part of the society. But the church needs to show mercy on behalf of Christ and show that Christ loves them. That's the only way you can introduce them to the eternal truth."
While in the United States, the delegation will also be available to answer questions about the HIV/AIDS problem and the political changes taking place in the region.