ST. LOUIS — An emotionally charged evening at Urbana 12 that included the appearance of Shortie Khumalo, an AIDS victim caregiver from Swaziland, concluded with students in attendance assembling 32,000 caregiver kits ready to be shipped to Africa in about two hours.
The 16,000 youth at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's triennial student missions conference were given a chance Saturday evening to write a short letter of encouragement to a caregiver before joining others on the Edwards Jones Dome floor. Once there, students filled a World Vision bag with items such as latex gloves, soap, and water purifying tablets.
"We wanted to provide the opportunity for the Urbana delegates to make a tangible effort that would shift their perspective to identifying with those in the margins of our world," said Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Urbana's program director. Toyama-Szeto called the event "historic." more >>
Saddleback Church, the California evangelical megachurch headed by Pastor Rick Warren, will be holding a "Compassion Weekend" as part of its effort to help Rwandan orphans whose parents died from HIV-AIDS.
Set to coincide with World AIDS Day, Compassion Weekend will take place this coming Saturday and Sunday and is part of the goal to give all Rwandan orphans a home by 2015. Kay Warren, founder of Saddleback Church's HIV&AIDS Initiative, said in a statement that it could be done, especially with the Church helping the endeavor.
"This is a very audacious goal – to help a country be the first to empty their orphanages, helping 3,000 children become part of permanent families, but we know with God all things are possible," said Warren. more >>
As the 2012 International AIDS Conference continues this week in Washington, D.C., Franklin Graham shared in a blog post his thoughts on how the Church should act toward those infected with the life-threatening disease.
According to Graham, who serves as the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, the Church should not condone premarital or extramarital sex, but it should show compassion toward victims of the disease. more >>
The focus on helping orphans worldwide needs to shift from simply perpetuating orphanages to equipping local churches in connecting children to parents, said leaders at the Christian Alliance for Orphans' annual summit this week.
On Friday, the final day of the two-day event hosted at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., included the megachurch's pastor, Rick Warren, and his wife, Kay, speaking about the need for Christians to refocus.
"Business as usual will not get the job done," Warren told about 2,000 people in attendance and a live webcast audience. "Jesus said you can't put new wine in old wineskins. The way we have been doing it for the last 100 years has not ended the crisis. We have to do a radical, revolutionary – may I say – biblical approach. The issue is to get these kids into families." more >>
Each year the Tony Blair Faith Foundation runs a blog series, "My Female Faith Hero," to highlight inspirational women of faith around UN International Women's Day. Kay Warren's reflection is part of this series. Read more faith hero stories including Tony Blair's at www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org
In 2008 Elizabeth Styffe was an extraordinary woman by any standard: she was a pediatric nurse, had a masters' degree in nursing, had been published in several peer-reviewed journals, was a professional harpist, co-founded the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and somehow managed to be a wife and mom to four terrific children. A very impressive resume. But Elizabeth allowed her faith to take her on an unexpected journey into the pain and suffering of orphaned children in a way that radically altered her relationship to God, her view of Christians' responsibility to care for orphans, and ultimately altered the fabric of her family.
After traveling to Thailand, Cambodia, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda in her work as an AIDS advocate, Elizabeth's natural compassion for hurting children, combined with the Biblical command to "care for widows and orphans in their distress "(James 1:27) began to gnaw at her. What could she do for the 163 million orphaned boys and girls in the world? She and her husband, Glenn, began to seriously pray about opening their hearts and their home to at least one of the precious little ones she had encountered in Rwanda. Within a few months, not one, but three orphaned children made the journey from an impoverished orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda, to the Styffes' warm, nurturing home in Southern California where they joined their new siblings. more >>
Getting involved in solving social ills should be an essential part of the Christian community, not an optional extra. That was the resounding message heard by 4,000 people at the Justice Conference this past weekend.
The second annual Justice Conference, a two–day event to promote dialogue about issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights was held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore. Speakers including an all-star lineup of leaders fighting for social causes were joined by representatives of 100 organizations to challenge attendees to integrate action into their faith, event organizers said.
Don Golden, who works at World Relief, which was a co-sponsor of the Justice Conference, told The Christian Post the event was about more than just bringing about awareness to today's problems. more >>