The Tempest Online™

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A Commentary Worth Sharing

Posted by Daniel on June 6, 2006

The following commentary was submitted by Kay Warren, wife of Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church and author of “The Purpose Driven Life”. She is executive director of Saddleback’s HIV/AIDS initiative. An accomplished writer, Mrs. Warren has traveled globally to speak and learn about the AIDS pandemic.

We felt her story, followed by a supposedly “Christian Response” from a reader, goes to the root of this debate.

What would Jesus do when confronted by AIDS?

“Joana crawled toward me on her skeletal elbows and knees, each movement a painful reminder of the fact that she was dying.”

When I met her, this emaciated woman was homeless, living under a tree. She had unrelenting diarrhea, little food, no earthly possessions, and only an elderly auntie who had taken pity on her to care for her needs.

Still, she roused herself to offer me, an American visitor to her part of Mozambique, a traditional greeting.

The African pastors who brought me to visit her told me that she had been evicted from her village when it became known that she had AIDS. Now, in this second village, her tiny stick house had mysteriously burned after her status became known. A short time later, Joana died — rejected, abandoned, persecuted and destitute.

We may think this doesn’t happen in the United States. “People who are HIV-positive are treated better than that here,” we say. But I’m not so sure.

I live in affluent Orange County, California, yet a disabled man in my area who was HIV positive was not allowed to enter his brother’s home.

He and his wife could live in the backyard, but he couldn’t come inside. To bathe him, his wife had to attach a nozzle to a hose and shoot him with a hard spray of water that would hopefully dislodge dirt and grime. The family dog was treated better than this man; at least it could go in the house.

Like Joana in Mozambique, this man may also die rejected, abandoned, persecuted and destitute.

As a follower of Christ, I am seriously disturbed by both stories.

Horrific and startling images confront each of us daily through newspapers, televisions, and eyewitness accounts of those suffering from AIDS. You can do what I did for years — choose to ignore it all because it was too painful — or you can become disturbed — seriously, dangerously disturbed — so disturbed that you are compelled to do something.

Christians are just as guilty as non-Christians of wanting to look the other way when it comes to the problems confronting our world, the topics that make us uncomfortable. But we need to be seriously disturbed about homelessness, child prostitution, rape, poverty, injustice, and HIV/AIDS.

Twenty-five years into the AIDS pandemic, being HIV-positive still carries stigma and shame. But God cares for the sick and so must we.

It’s not a sin to be sick. The Bible tells us Jesus was repeatedly “filled with compassion” as he encountered broken bodies and broken minds. While polite society vigorously avoided contact with those they considered diseased outcasts, Jesus responded in a radical way: He cared, he touched, he healed.

I had no medication that could cure Joana, nothing to alleviate her pain, nothing that would restore her to health. But I offered the one thing that all of us can offer: I offered my presence. I put my arms gently around her, prayed for relief from her suffering and whispered, “I love you.”

This is a start, but much more is needed. Today, I challenge the worldwide church to take on the global giants of spiritual darkness, lack of servant leaders, poverty, disease, and ignorance. It’s past time for those who claim to be Christ’s followers to join the struggle against the devastation that the HIV virus brings.

How many more like Joana have to die before you become seriously disturbed?

A response she received:

“When the misguided pastor’s wife refers to those who “claim to be followers” of Christ, she is implying that if we do not join in this “struggle” with HIV, then we are not truly what we claim. As a Christian, I take offense at this. HIV is a medical condition, no more a crisis than cancer, blindness or a host of other unfortunate ailments that torment mankind. True Christians are moved by Christ’s compassion to help those in need who may cross our paths, regardless of the ailment. Just because HIV has been earmarked as a “gay” disease in the past, does not mean we are to bow before it. There is a hidden agenda here, one which would have Christians not only be kind to gays outside the church, but to accommodate gays in the church as though they could actually be a part of spiritual union with Christ. The Bible does not condone sin in any form, and is very clear on God’s opinion of this particular sin. Those who do not see this, choose not see it because of their spiritual rebellion. The deluded pastor’s wife should recognize that she is being used to deceive many, and should repent while there is yet time.”
Brenton Hunter, Dallas, Texas

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One Response to “A Commentary Worth Sharing”

  1. Addison said

    Wow, it’s nice to know that the wife of a man who is selling a video game where players can play as Christians and gun down Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and gays in the streets of post-apocalyptic New York have such a great understanding of love and compassion.. BRAVO!!
    To Dallas boy, I hope that Jesus takes pity on you and the judgement you cast upon others in your pretentious effort to keep up with everyone in your church who likes to condemn gays unless they are redecorating your Park Cities condo or doing your wife’s hair at that “trendy new place down in Oak Lawn.”

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