Christian leaders help the church understand HIV/AIDS outreach

By October 17, 2006

USA (MNN/PDM) — Physicians, pastors, and politicians will be among the speakers at the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS and the Church, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, at Saddleback Church. The summit — the second hosted by the Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Ministries HIV/AIDS Initiative — will focus on the theme Race Against Time.

“It’s past time for those who claim to be Christ’s followers to join the struggle against the devastation that the HIV virus brings,” Kay Warren said. “We must get in the race to stop AIDS and to care for the millions already affected.”

Along with Rick and Kay Warren, planned plenary session speakers include Franklin Graham, president and C.E.O. of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Dennis Rainey, president of Family Life; Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International; and Calvin O. Butts, III, pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York City, and president of SUNY College at Old Westbury.

Other featured speakers are U.S. Senators Sam Brownback and Barack Obama; Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Rwandan Episcopal Church; Ambassador Mark Dybul, United States global AIDS coordinator; Eugene Rivers, pastor, Azusa Christian Community, Boston; Kent Hill, assistant administrator of the Bureau for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development; Deborah Dortzbach, international director, HIV/AIDS programs, World Relief; Robert Redfield, M.D., The Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Edward Green, Ph.D, Harvard University anthropologist and AIDS prevention authority.

The summit will include workshops, plenary sessions, and interactive question-and-answer opportunities. Leading medical, ministry, and government experts will equip church leaders to begin or enhance an HIV/AIDS ministry in their communities and in partnership with churches around the world.

“Most people expect the government, not the Church, to take care of people living with HIV/AIDS,” Rick Warren says. “But Jesus, speaking to his Church, said, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

In addition to having Christ’s command to care, churches are uniquely equipped to address HIV/AIDS, Warren adds. “The global HIV/AIDS pandemic is the Church�s greatest opportunity to serve the hurting like Jesus, to show God�s love to skeptics, to share the Good News, and to extend a helping hand in communities and around the world,” says Warren. “Churches offer faith, help, love, forgiveness, and grace — spiritual support that neither business nor government can offer.”

Summit participants will learn six ways churches can minister to those with HIV/AIDS. They include, Handling testing and counseling, unleashing a volunteers labor force, removing the stigma, Champion healthy behavior, help with nutrition and medications.

With the church empowered, it can’t help but see many who are suffering turn to Christ.

Leave a Reply