Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sunday, October 15th, I was sitting at my computer working on this post when the earthquake shook us to our core. The electricity went out and thus my laptop lost my work. If the ground shakes again as I write it this time, I will have something to think about...

The image to the right comes from a prayer booklet that I wrote about on Friday, October 13th. Paul and Susi Childers are YWAM missionaries with an incredible ministry to be "Voices for the Voiceless." Paul is from New Zealand and Susi is from Germany. The prayer booklet hits 30 tough issues of gender injustice. On Sunday, I was praying through this issue: AIDS.

All too often I have thought of AIDS as someone else's problem or thought of it as not something we have to worry about. I had little compassion for the suffering it was causing. I have had to question myself about whether my attitude about AIDS developed because of a judgmental spirit against homosexuals and the association of AIDS with homosexual behavior. Regardless of the cause of AIDS, however, men, women, and children are afflicted with this disease, and each of them were created in His image. We are commanded to love not just those who think or act like us, but all humanity, and to be the hands and feet of Christ to them.

Did you know that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981? That's a million per year. Looking at World Book, WWII was the war that killed more than any other, and it involved an estimated 17 million military deaths. Did you know that Africa has 12 million orphans who are orphans because of AIDS? Did you know that 43% of those infected with HIV are women?

We must be praying about this. We must have compassion on these people. There was a song Steve Camp wrote that always brought me to my knees because it asked a question that I never heard anyone ask in my "Christian" circles; frankly, I'm not sure any cared to think of such a thing. He asked whether I had tasted the tears of those who were afflicted with AIDS.

Have you? Or are AIDS victims the modern day lepers? Better yet, are homosexuals and other such "sinners" lepers to most Christians? Have you ever ministered to "such as these." Pray that God would intervene against this epidemic and that a cure would be found. Pray that people, including people like you, would be called upon to teach biblical truths to show that there is a very easy way to avoid contracting the disease, at least sexually. And look for other ways to minister to the broken hearted, not just those afflicted with AIDS, but with any social issue that you may have avoided in the past.


Dorcas Hawker said...

Bryan -

Thanks for the reminder to remember to pray for those "not like us". Sometimes it is easy to pray for things we identify with (for instance whenever someone loses a loved one I feel like I can empathize), but it is harder to pray for others when we can't really say "I know what you are going through." The point is that I should pray in all matters, and not have prayer "special interest" areas. Yet there is so much need, I am glad y'all have specific days to focus on certain areas of need.

Strider said...

My father was a hospital chaplain in 1983. It was unbelievable the attitude that the churches had against those with AIDS. It was as if the sin of homosexuality trumped all others. People were afraid of AIDS and homosexuals. Many hated them because of their fear. While pastoring a small rural church we had one family who had a son with AIDS. He was a hemephiliac and got the disease through blood transfusion. That did nothing to lesson the suspicion and shame for that family. At that time I began to say that AIDS was not God's judgment on homosexuals it was God's judgement on the Church. The needy are dying all around us and we by and large applaud it. This judgement proved we were not in fact, followers of Christ. Christ never behaved this way toward sinners or toward suffering people. Fifteen years later have we learned anything? I love Dorcas and her blog but her comment above says it all to me. We should pray for those 'not like us'? How are they not like us? They are sinners whom Jesus loves JUST like us. The fact that we 'feel' so different from them does not reflect Christ' work in our lives. It reflects how little difference He has made in our lives.
Wow, sorry so long a comment- guess you hit a nerve!

Bryan Riley said...

Strider, great words. They are just like us and but for the grace of God there go we. Excellent reminder. It is always so much easier to think in terms of us and them than to live in the reality that we are but dust and cling desperately to an amazing and wonderful God.

Kiki Cherry said...

This topic is close to my heart, because my country of birth, Zimbabwe, is one of the hardest hit by the AIDS crisis.

Thanks for posting this and continuing to make people aware.

BTW--we're glad that you are all okay. I heard about the earthquake on the news, and immediately prayed for your family.