Why don't more evangelicals care about the AIDS crisis in Africa and around the world? I suppose that you could call it "progress" - and it is - but the "progress" is shockingly slow and disgraceful. Here's a bit from the article:
The survey, conducted by the Barna Research Group for World Vision, a nondenominational Christian relief organization that does heroic work in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, revealed that since November 2002, the percentage of American evangelicals who said they would be willing to make a donation to help alleviate the AIDS emergency has risen from 5 percent to 14 percent.
The survey of 1,004 adults also found that 17 percent of evangelicals (a group Barna researchers define with a complicated set of nine questions about doctrine, belief and practice) now say they would help children orphaned by AIDS, a figure that is up from a shocking 3 percent two years ago.
World Vision calls this a "small but significant increase."
This is not only a terrible example to the rest of society, but a terrible statement about the Gospel that is being preached in Evangelical churches today. 6500 people die from AIDS EVERY SINGLE DAY in Africa. TWELVE MILLION CHILDREN ARE ORPHANED right now in Africa because of AIDS. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Care for the orphan and the widow. Africa is today's proving ground for the Gospel, and Evangelicals are showing that they do not practice the whole Gospel of Jesus. I realize those are strong words and likely to make some angry with me. Frankly, you need to be angry. Be mad at me, then examine the Gospel and your reaction to it. Your church's reaction to it. Your denomination's reaction to it. Then tell me if I've overreacted.
"I have to ask myself what would Jesus do in response to the AIDS crisis," said Richard Stearns, President of World Vision. "The survey clearly shows that Christians are not taking leadership in fighting the effects of the AIDS epidemic. AIDS is one of the greatest threats faced by children and adults in the developing world. Already 13 million children have been orphaned by the disease, and that number could double or triple over the next decade."
The worst thing about the above quote? It is from four years ago. In 2001, World Vision was crying out for attention from the Evangelical world... please notice Africa! Please do something! Please take the lead! Yes, the number of Christians willing to help in Africa is up from "completely pitiful" to "pitiful" - yet so is the number of willing helpers in the general population. Yet again, Evangelical Christianity reflects no difference from anyone else in America. I genuinely pray that those of us "emerging church" follow our words with action.
Other bloggers have already noticed this, and hopefully even more will raise the alarm. If you read this and you care, demand that your church take action. Demand that your small group or Sunday School class take action. Demand that your family take action. If you don't know how, email me at steven (@) servlife.org and I'll get you started. If you read this and don't care... don't let me know. I might say bad words.
The Sun-Times author sums it all up quite nicely:
Hey, church, what's it gonna take?
Does Jesus himself have to make a special guest appearance, point at Africa and shout, "Yo, a little help over here?!" before you realize it's unquestionably your responsibility to do something significant to stem the tide of the AIDS pandemic there?
Yes, it's up to all of us as human beings, regardless of our religious persuasion or lack thereof, to care for those most in need.
But the church should know better. After all, you've had missionaries on the ground in Africa for decades.
Here's an idea: Instead of giving that weekly tithe to the local church to build a new fellowship hall, how about sending it to Africa to buy anti-retroviral drugs that will keep somebody's parents alive or send an orphan to school.
Actions speak louder than words.
Read on for a prayer for Africa...
O God, Teach us how to love, how to hope, how to believe in Life.
We pray for healing.
We pray that you lay your hands on our brothers and sisters of Africa: the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. We pray that you touch their lives with your presence, your love, and your grace. We pray that you heal their hearts and minds with the gift of Life.
We pray that you heal the church. We pray that you touch the hearts, minds, and souls of all religious communities with your compelling hand of truth. We pray that you heal our fear, our anxiety, and our prejudice that we might live lives of faith, hope, and love to touch those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
We pray for salvation.
We pray that you lift up our brothers and sisters of Africa from the mire of pain, horror, and disease. We pray that you offer a gift of salvation for those who are dying, for those already dead. We pray for the living, that you bless them with Hope in the light of Love.
We pray for doctors, nurses, caregivers, and researchers. We pray that you offer them wisdom, compassion, and faith. We pray that you bless them with an intellect to boldly imagine a world without AIDS, a vision for a new generation of medical care, and an unconditional love for those who are dying without a hope for treatment.
We pray for support.
We pray that you will provide for our brothers and sisters of Africa. We pray that you will comfort them in their time of need. We pray that you will provide food for the hungry, clothes for the naked, a home for the homeless, and medical treatment for those who cannot afford such a luxury. We pray that you will provide your orphans with good families that will raise them in love.
We pray for our governments, our pharmaceutical companies, our corporations, and our religious communities. We pray that each institution finds it in their hearts and minds to offer monetary support by way of funding, medical treatments, and community-oriented aid. We pray that these institutions advance in bringing "the kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven" by dropping the debt, providing aid, and promoting trade in Africa.
We pray for compassion.
We pray that you rain compassion on our brothers and sisters of Africa. We pray that you instill in the hearts of complacent Americans a vicarious understanding of the suffering: mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally of those dying with AIDS in Africa. We pray compassion on the cold hearts of those who cling to ignorance and indifference. We pray for compassion on those who are compelled to combat the virus, the suffering, and the Death. We pray for compassion for the world as we attempt to wage a war against a deadly disease that is killing our brothers and sisters. We pray for compassion for Life itself.
O God, Hear our prayer.