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ss triple helix - winter 2007,  World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day

A glimmer of hope on a dark plain

Another World AIDS Day passed on 1 December: but amidst the usual flurry of news stories and updates on the epidemic, and the predictable tables of statistics showing the mounting scale of the problem, there was a glimmer of hope.

At Saddleback Church in California, Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, convened a second Global HIV Summit for church leaders at the end of November. [1] Warren emphasises that AIDS is a kairos opportunity for the church to re-engage with the world and show the love and mercy of God to a hurting creation. [2] Using the scriptural template laid down in Mark 10 and Luke 10, he advocates the engagement of ordinary Christians where they are and with what they have to bring Christ's hope and healing.

That he was also able to draw in people such as the head of the Global Fund and Senator Barack Obama is a sign of how influential Warren has become. But his profile does not detract from his central plea – for the church to get out and get its hands dirty.

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams also raised his voice on World AIDS Day, [3] echoing Warren's call for engagement, but reminding the worldwide church to look at the problem of AIDS not just in communities overseas, but also in our own, local communities, and even more, within our own churches. AIDS is not an 'out there' problem – it affects people inside and outside of the church, but we fear even to talk about it, let alone take action.

At the same time, ICMDA launched its HIV Initiative with an inaugural award for Christian clinicians that have pioneered work in fighting AIDS. [4] This year's winner is Dr Biangtung Langkham of Emmanuel Hospital Association in India, who was recognised for his pioneering work in prevention and treatment in several rural and urban communities over the last 20 years. [5]

There are increasing signs that the church is waking up and engaging more and more with the pandemic. There are some, like Dr Langkham, who have been working away quietly for decades, and others like Rick Warren who seem to have just woken to the challenge. There are many other ordinary Christians who have been involved in different ways and at different times in whatever manner they can, especially in Africa, a land replete with unsung heroines and heroes of faith.

AIDS is not the only scourge afflicting our world, but it is one of the biggest. It is also one where Christians have already contributed a huge amount, but we have so much more yet to give.

  2. Mark 16:15
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