loren Eric Swanson: Saddleback HIV / AIDS Conference--Disturbing Voices

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Saddleback HIV / AIDS Conference--Disturbing Voices

Pretty incredible day today at Saddleback. More than 1500 folks gathered on the floor of Saddleback's auditorium to be part of this historic event. The church was being challenged to take on the problems of HIV / AIDS. Kay Warren started off by telling her story. Her story begins with reading a Newsweek story on the AIDS pandemic. She could not get the images and statistics out of her mind. Her message centered on four reasons why we don't get involved:
1. Ignorance--most do not understand the intensity of this pandemic. This led her to a trip to Africa.
2. Fear--Psalm 38:6,8-11 describes a man that has the symptoms of AIDS
3. What will people think?--Jesus didn't care what others thought
4. Im afraid the problem is too big. "This train is moving although not everyone is not on board yet.

What was great about Kay was seeing her passion and transformation.

Rick then got up and finished the talk with his four points.
"How did I miss the biggest health crisis in history?"

Why we must care
1. Obligation--God doesn't give you money and notoriety for yourself. "God, what do you want me to do with my influence and affluence?"
2. Because Jesus modeled compassion--Matthew 4:23--Preaching, teaching, healing. "1/3 of Jesus ministry dealt with health!" "If you want to be like Jesus you must care about the sick."
3. The problem demands it.
4. God commands that we care--Luke 6:36. Jesus hates it when we ignore needs--Ezekiel 34:4, 9,10
How did we miss this?

The evening plenary session was led by Bill and Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek. Just as Kay initiated the engagement in the AIDS pandemic, it was Lynne who led the charge at Willow. In 1993 when Bill and Lynn were in Europe Bill got an email from Bono (whom he thought died in a skiing accident!) Bono asked to meet with Bill but he sent Lynn instead. So in a coffee shop in Dublin, Lynne walked out saying, "God, I think you just used a Rock Star to turn my life upside down." "I was ambushed by Africa." Bill encouraged Lynne to lead the Willow Creek effort. So Lynn pulled together willing volunteers and without money, they began planning and dreaming "as if they had money and staff." In 2004 Willow did "Christmas on location" with the three teaching pastors going to various parts of the globe. Bill and Lynne went to an AIDS clinic in Africa. When the 20 minute broadcast was piped back to Willow on Christmas eve, $600,000 was raised for this ministry. Their strategy was to partner with churches in Africa that doing something to help with HIV / AIDS.

What was great about today was that a page has turned in the life of the church. They are not waiting to figure everything out before proceeding forward. "God will meet you along the way but you've got to move."


At Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

I'm so glad to see someone blogging this conference! Thanks...

At Wednesday, November 30, 2005 1:26:00 PM, Blogger Kim Traynor said...

The conference sounds great, thanks for filling us in!

At Friday, January 13, 2006 9:10:00 PM, Blogger Dexter said...

Another reason people dont get involved is the politics behind the disease. Most diseases are not like this. Many conservative Christians see the flaunting of the gay lifestyle and are torn between doing what is right and seeing this disease as an effect of sin that might have been avoided.


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