International (MNN)–The AIDS pandemic is the greatest humanitarian crisis of all time, inflicting over 70 million people, to date.
According to the U.N. agency on AIDS, there will be 4.3 million new infections this year. The numbers create a startling urgency to find new ways to stop the spread of the disease.
For many years, the international church remained silent on the issue due to stigma and ignorance of the virus. That is slowly beginning to change.
Urbana ’06 is creating a legacy in the face of that global pandemic. World Vision’s Princess Kasune Zulu says she sees a stirring in the future leaders at Urbana. “There is an awakening to say, ‘We want to do something.’ They are ready, they’re saying ‘Lord, what is my call?'”
This year marks the launch of the HIV/AIDS track engaging faith and response. The track will help believers move forward with the right information confronting the AIDS pandemic.
World Vision’s Vice-President Steve Haas says there’s authority in working in concert with the Gospel as the church breaks the silence over HIV/AIDS. “As leaders of the church have spoken up a lot of other leaders who are listening for that kind of music to act are hearing it and realizing that they can harmonize in their own specific ways.”
World Vision and Purpose Driven Ministries joined voices this week at Urbana ’06. Haas concurs with Purpose Driven’s Rick Warren in the approach to the problem. Both agreed that the issue is not to SLOW the pandemic, but to take active steps to STOP it.
Warren put it this way:
‘S’–Save sex for marriage
‘T’–Teach men to respect women and children
‘O’–Offer treatment through the churches
‘P’–Pledge yourself to one partner for life
World Vision International’s President Dean Hirsch sums it up this way: “Our faithfulness in Christ calls us to both comfort the sick and demand justice for the oppressed. AIDS is a health and social issue. But it is also an ethical and human rights issue.”