UK (MNN) — Whether addressing the need within the local church community in the UK or engaging with the issues globally through partnerships with church programs in the developing world, Tearfund believes the church has a crucial role to play.
Tearfund is one of UK's leading Christian relief and development agencies, committed to addressing the causes of poverty in many of the poorest countries around the world. It is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Now, Tearfund has produced a resource for churches seeking to understand the HIV and AIDS pandemic and respond practically. It also supports an HIV conference for churches, part of a wider awareness program by the Christian development agency, co-hosted with The Kerith Centre, Bracknell.
According to Assist News, Kay Warren — the wife of U.S. best-selling Purpose Driven Life author, Rick Warren — is adding her support to the Tearfund program, raising the awareness of HIV and AIDS with UK churches.
Warren, who is Executive Director of the HIV initiative at Saddleback Church, California, will be the main speaker at the event on Saturday, March 15.
She says there won't be an end to AIDS unless the church responds, describing this as "the greatest opportunity for the church to be the church."
"As you learn about HIV and engage your church, people living with HIV will be touched and changed," says Kay. "You will be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. This practical resource is biblically based and refreshingly practical. It will guide you and your church through a life-changing endeavor that will leave you seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined. It will require a response to God's call to care."
The conference will draw on global perspectives and biblical truth with the realisms of today's culture. It will both communicate and challenge, seeking to provide clarity and context for UK churches today.
The booklet resource "HIV–How your church can respond" lifts the lid on the surrounding issues with practical advice and responses for churches to reach out with care and support.
In addition to drawing on the views and experience of church pastors in sub-Saharan Africa (one of the regions where HIV is most prolific), it looks at the rate of UK infections–currently some 73,000–and the increase among ethnic communities and others groups. The booklet contains a Bible study, a focus for prayer, an icebreaker quiz and further reading.
"It's our vision to stop the spread of HIV by 2015 in the poorest places where we work," says Matthew Frost, Tearfund CEO. "We are convinced that local churches are God's chosen tool for making this happen. The church has to take a stand and bring a message of hope and practical care to those affected. With the right approach, HIV is preventable and manageable."
Over the last 10 years
Tearfund has partnered with churches and Christian organizations worldwide to reduce the spread of AIDS. Their financial support and training for compassionate Christians to draw alongside orphaned and vulnerable children provides hope. It overcomes stigma and shame that can destroy families and undo decades of development work. Raising awareness of HIV is essential around the world, as it is in the UK where new HIV diagnoses have doubled annually since 2000.
HIV isn't just a problem for communities thousands of miles away — all too often it's a problem on the doorstep of a UK church. Tearfund's support for UK churches is offering a practical solution.
The Positive UK Church Conference on HIV will be on Saturday, March 15 at Bracknell Family Church, The Kerith Centre, Church Road, Bracknell RG12 1EH. Tickets are priced £15 (before Feb 1).
Other speakers include: Patricia Sawo–the East Africa Representative of ANERELA (African Network of Religious leaders living with or affected by AIDS), and Rev. David Peck–the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for International Development.