The Church must be Jesus to HIV/AIDS victims

By September 20, 2006

USA (MNN) — Jesus loved, touched, and cared for the people of his day who were isolated and hurting. In our day, people who are living with HIV/AIDS often hide their condition — even from family — out of fear or shame. The love of Christ compels us to reach out and care for people who are suffering.

Purpose Driven Ministries’ Rick Warren says, “40 million women, children, and men worldwide have HIV/AIDS…with more than 1 million in the United States. That means, statistically, someone in your church has HIV/AIDS. They may not even know it. And more than 50 percent of people with HIV/AIDS are women and children.”

More than ever, Warren is convinced, “The HIV/AIDS pandemic is the Church’s greatest opportunity to visibly demonstrate God’s love to skeptics. It’s also an incredible opportunity to grow in Christ-like character, to share the Good News with the hurting, and to extend your church’s witness into your community and around the world.”

Most people expect the government, not the Church, to take care of people living with HIV/AIDS. 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.” (Matt. 25:4)

It’s taken some time, but Warren is completely convinced that the evangelical church should be doing all it can to help in this crisis. He says God’s Word commands it.

According to Warren, “As Christian leaders, we’re called to speak up for those who have no influence — the needy, the oppressed, the prisoner, the orphan, and the widow. The Bible tells us we must care; it’s simply not an option. And I think that means we must do something about HIV/AIDS here in the United States and also the pandemic that now rages across Africa.”

He says, “I’m convinced the local church is the only organization that can address and possibly eradicate this horrendous disease.”

Warren says the church can care for the sick, provide testing and counseling, unleash a volunteer labor force, embrace those infected to help remove the stigma, champion healthy lifestyles, and help with nutrition and medication.

Warren says pastors need to take this important issue to their people. “My prayer is that you will use your influence to help those with no influence. For such a time as this, God has placed you in leadership and you can move forward in faith, knowing God is preparing your path.”

Purpose Driven will be holding the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS November 30-December 1. Find out more at www.purposedriven.com/HIV.

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