Beyond the World's Worst Epidemic
February 1, 2002 - This month in Washington, D.C., Samaritan's Purse is sponsoring a hallmark conference on the Christian response to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.
by Franklin Graham
AIDS is fast becoming the worst epidemic in human history. Despite billions of dollars and years of research, we have no cure for AIDS and no vaccination against the HIV virus.
Many churches and Christians have been reluctant to become involved in AIDS ministry. Like people in Jesus' day who avoided those with leprosy, people today avoid those who have AIDS. As Jesus ministered to lepers, we too need to reach out to those suffering from the plague of our time.
An estimated 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS. Millions of these are innocent victims: Babies infected before birth by their mothers' blood, children and adults by blood transfusions, and wives by unfaithful husbands—not to mention the millions of orphans left behind.
Only Christ's Church offers real hope for defeating AIDS. The Bible gives us plain guidelines for behavior that could retard the spread of infections, and Jesus has set the standard of ministry to those who are suffering. Worldwide networks of churches reach people in nearly every nation on Earth. And millions of people who are facing death need desperately to know there is hope beyond the grave. They need to be introduced to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Those are the reasons for Prescription for Hope, the conference being held February 17-21, in Washington, D.C. Christians in various parts of the world have developed grassroots programs to deal with AIDS. Ministry leaders from more than 70 countries will meet to exchange ideas and to develop a network of support.
These ministries work in many different ways, but they are all based on the life-changing principles of God's Word. Participants include a Canadian missionary in Thailand whose home has given hope to more than 100 children abandoned or orphaned because of AIDS, and in the African country of Malawi a husband-and-wife team has had extraordinary success in helping teenagers change their behavior by teaching them biblical principles.
Like the Good Samaritan who was the hero of Jesus' parable, Christians need to reach out to those who are suffering from this deadly disease. We need to consider again how Jesus dealt with the suffering and then we need to "go and do likewise" (cf. Luke 10:37). As we do this, His name will be glorified.