By Mark A. Taylor
Every day. Every week. The ruin caused by AIDS is with us like the air we breathe. I want to ignore the numbers, but I can’t.
According to World Vision, 6,000 children are orphaned by AIDS every day . If the sum total of these children orphaned so far “held hands, they would stretch five and a half times across the United States. By 2011, this virtual chain will reach around the world.”*
And that’s just the beginning. World Vision also reports that AIDS claims as many lives every week as the total number of American fatalities in the Vietnam War. “Since it was discovered, AIDS has killed nearly 30 million people equal to the combined population of Arizona and Texas.”
And although the highest concentration of AIDS cases is in Sub Saharan Africa (64 percent), “skyrocketing infection rates in Russia, China, and India threaten similar or worse epidemics in these regions in the near future.” In fact, infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, “is currently spreading fastest in Russia, where the infection rate grew 257 percent in just three years.”
This weekend we’ll hear much from the media about World Aids Day, observed December 1. Many of us will ignore the news some because the numbers describe a challenge so large it seems hopeless, others because we assume AIDS is not our problem. In either case we’re wrong.
As David Grubbs points out this week (p. 6), Christians in Zimbabwe (like many Christians in America), at first assumed all hardship brought by AIDS was caused by the sin of the sufferers. The Zimbabwe church has grown beyond that position; it’s past time for the American church to join them. Children orphaned or infected by their sick parents did nothing to deserve their illness. And even if a person’s wrongdoing did bring on his problem, that’s no reason the Christian shouldn’t help him.
And you can help. This week we feature articles about several Christian church agencies relieving suffering and battling ignorance about AIDS in Africa. Each of these ministries welcomes your support. World Vision, an evangelical international relief organization, offers practical, easy to accomplish ways for individual Christians to make a difference. Discover them for yourself at www.worldvision.org .
We’d be pleased to share more news about winning the battle against AIDS overseas. Meanwhile, we’d like to report on AIDS ministries by Christian churches and churches of Christ in America. (Send your items to firstname.lastname@example.org .)
World Vision describes the current AIDS pandemic as “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time.” With the compassion of Christ, carrying the hope of the gospel, we can we must refuse to look the other way.