The church is in place to be a key player in the AIDS pandemic.

By September 19, 2005

International (MNN) — The problem of AIDS is far-reaching, devastating millions in many poverty-stricken countries and across the globe. Relief for those suffering is slow at being delivered.

In the midst of this crisis, Compassion International’s Wess Stafford says the church is in a strategic position, and God’s people are the key to dealing with the AIDS pandemic.

“The church is in place everywhere where AIDS is ravaging the people. The church is in place. The church has the heart to do it; the church is doing what it can. And it’s a golden opportunity for, even governments, even multi-lateral organizations, to recognize that in the church, in the people of God in these communities, is a viable, credible, grassroots delivery institution. And we need to challenge those who have the financial resources to recognize the need to reach out and enable the church to be the church.”

Stafford believes it’s the opportunity of our generation to respond to this crisis. And the church that is dealing first-hand with this crisis is making a difference: “The church in the developing world, the church in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, they are doing their part in the midst of these AIDS-ridden communities. They are living out their faith. They are sacrificially reaching out to those who suffer.”

AIDS is the “leprosy of our generation,” and Stafford urges all believers to respond with the compassion of Christ: “The church in the West, here in the United States especially, we really need to awaken that we need to do our part. We cannot simply look at this and walk away as if it’s not our problem. If our brothers and sisters in Christ are willing to put their lives on the line to minister lovingly in the midst of this huge pandemic, then we in the West need to do our part.”

Not only do believers need to respond because the church in the midst of the crisis needs our support, but because those who are suffering most are innocent and helpless: “We as Christians have kind of looked at that and kept our distance from it as if the people who have that somehow deserve it or are guilty of some sort of behavior that brought that about. That’s simply not the case. The greatest victims, the most serious victims of this are the little children.”

Stafford is hopeful that the church will live out our faith around this issue, and truly live as followers of Christ: “And I would just call on the church to awaken to this moment in history, our moment, to reach out and to live out our faith in a hurting world, in a very tangible problem like this that is a golden opportunity for us to really be what God called us to be, and that’s salt and light in the midst of a hurting and confused world.”

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