'The Path of Hope'
July 1, 2003 - A few weeks ago, President George W. Bush invited Christian leaders to participate in White House meetings on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. A number of us also had the opportunity to visit the Capitol and discuss the issue with Sen. Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader.
by Franklin Graham
It was encouraging to hear our president talk about HIV/AIDS in terms of "a moral imperative" and "answering the call." He raised the example of Uganda, where biblical values underlie the world's most successful national HIV/AIDS program. And he closed with a reference to the Good Samaritan: "When we see the wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not—America will not—pass to the other side of the road."
That was not empty political talk. Less than a month after that, the HIV/AIDS initiative was approved by Congress and signed into law by the president. And to the credit of leaders such as President Bush and Sen. Frist, the law embraces Christian values and concerns.
Of the $15 billion authorized for medicine, orphans, prevention, hospice and other care over the next five years, $1 billion is earmarked for teaching abstinence and marital fidelity. The law also includes a "conscience clause" that exempts faith-based organizations from secular provisions of the law that they may find objectionable.
I came away from those meetings grateful that our leaders are approaching this world's problems from a position grounded in moral clarity. We should never take Christian leadership for granted. The Bible tells us to pray "for all that are in authority" (1 Timothy 2:2, KJV) and that "there is no authority except that which God has established" (Romans 13:1, NIV).
I also appreciate how the president presented the HIV/AIDS crisis in a way that challenges and inspires Christians to respond. Our hesitation to get involved with this disease has been understandable. But Christians can no longer avoid the issue.
That's why we launched "Prescription for Hope," a program to mobilize, to strengthen and to unify the international Christian response to HIV/AIDS. With the support of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan's Purse organized an unprecedented global conference last year in Washington. We have developed partnerships with front-line HIV/AIDS ministries in dozens of countries. And we are developing innovative programs in Africa that we believe will demonstrate the power of the Gospel in dealing with this terrible disease.
For the millions who are infected and for the millions more who are at risk, the Gospel represents the only real hope. If we respond now with compassion and care, we can truly change our world.
"There are only two possible responses to suffering on this scale," the president said. "We can turn our eyes away in resignation and despair, or we can take decisive, historic action to turn the tide against this disease and give the hope of life to millions who need our help now. The United States of America chooses the path of action and the path of hope."
So do we.