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AIDS didn't even make the list of concerns for World Vision in a 1999 urgent-issues report. But according to Ken Casey of the ministry's new HIV/AIDS hope (Hope, Orphans, Prevention, and Education) Initiative, World Vision "woke up" about three years ago to realize that the plague of the 21st century was unraveling all its other work.

"The AIDS pandemic is the greatest humanitarian crisis," Casey said. "It just begs a reaction from the church."

The church is now in full reaction mode. More than 2,000 Christian medical professionals, church leaders, and students gathered for the ninth annual Global Missions Health Conference, November 11-13, at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. They spoke not only of statistics that confirmed the extent of the pandemic (43 million people living with HIV/AIDS; 8,000 deaths each day; 14 million orphans), but of working together.

Christians and churches are forming partnerships to prevent, treat, and care for affected people. Last fall Authentic Media published a book—The Hope Factor: Engaging the Church in the HIV/AIDS Crisis—that brought together the presentations from the 2003 conference.

In the last three years, World Vision has trained 491 pastors in 359 churches in 19 countries to take a biblical perspective on the pandemic. "When you actually are able to sit down with church leaders in the United States or Africa and go through the reality of what's going on and bring in scriptural principles, hearts warm up," Casey said.

World Vision, citing a Barna poll it commissioned, said American evangelical support for AIDS ministry is up significantly. The new poll found that 14 percent of respondents are willing to donate money for AIDS prevention and education overseas—compared ...

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January 2005

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