Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Callousness to Healing

When I decided to take part in The 40 Day Fast, I knew immediately what organization I wanted to highlight. I prayerfully considered, and God confirmed it in my heart.

But the cause I wanted to focus on that this organization was helping with was much tougher for me. Not tough to decide on -- once again, that was easy and I believe the Lord has impressed it upon me. But it's tough because I need to make a very humbling confession about it right up front: For most of my adult life, I have been extremely calloused, cynical, apathetic, and sometimes downright mean and hateful about it.

The area of need I will be discussing is HIV/AIDS. The organization is Compassion International.

As I was studying the statistics, I was quickly overwhelmed by the gravity of the problem, but I'd like to highlight a few quick facts:
  • Since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in 1983, more than 25 million people have died from this deadly disease.

  • Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS.

  • More than 12 million African children and 15 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

  • By 2010, it's projected that more than 25 million children worldwide will be orphaned by AIDS.

  • There are 14,000 new HIV infections each day: around 2,000 of those daily infections are in children younger than 15 years of age and 6,000 are in young people ages 15-24.

  • Currently, 38.6 million people in the world live with HIV; 24.5 million of those live in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • 2.3 million children younger than 15 years of age live with HIV.

  • Nine out of 10 children living with AIDS are African.

  • Females are 12-20 percent more vulnerable to HIV transmission than males of the same ages.

  • Every minute a child under 15 dies of an AIDS-related illness.

  • Each month, more people die from AIDS than were killed in the Southeast Asia tsunami that shocked the world in late 2004.

Sources and lots of additional facts and information: Here, here, here, here, and here.

How We Can Help
Okay, so the statistics are sobering and grim. But the whole point of this is healing, hope, and solutions. Compassion is an excellent choice for many reasons: They are Christ-centered. They are child-focused. They are church-based. Compassion provides a unique opportunity to help because they build credible and lasting relationships with people in the affected communities. Some practical steps available:

-Please consider sponsoring a child in a HIV/AIDS affected area. As you browse the child profiles on the web site, these are the ones with the red ribbons on the photo.

-If you have Flash installed, Compassion has a very nice portal on their site which also highlights this cause, provides direct links to relevant pages, and has a nice "Send to a Friend" utility to make it easy to spread the word to your friends.

-You can make a donation to Compassion's AIDS Initiative, either a one-time gift or a monthly commitment to help care for AIDS orphans.

-My wife and I sponsor a girl named Lidya in Ethiopia (an HIV/AIDS affected area) whose father has died, and whose mother is very sick. Please join us in praying for Lidya and her mother.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I spent many years with what was quite frankly a wrong heart regarding the people suffering from HIV/AIDS. I was told it was a judgment from God against sinful sex, or drug use, and I chose to believe that there was nothing I could do about it anyway. I heard about it so often in the news that I chose to harden my heart and close my ears. Eventually, I had to repent and acknowledge that the heart of Jesus was broken over this, and that if I really want to be part of His ministry on the earth, I need to be willing to extend His Grace freely to others, just as He has done to me.

20 comments:

  1. Those numbers are so sad.

    I think we become calloused, because it hurts so badly to see those numbers, and realize I am just a "one" what can I do to change the "25 million children orphaned to AIDS?" But once we realize that organizations like compassion are helping these children, which are helping families, it enables us to turn that pain into a combined effort to help change things.

    It's so awesome that God is working in all of our hearts!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post for our project. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sometimes statistics can be so sobering and overwhelming. We can start to think, wow, what can I do?

    But then I saw your picture of Lidya and I'm reminded of another great quote from Mother Teresa:
    "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one. "


    Excellent post C-Hammer...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so saddened and sickened by those statistics.
    My heartfelt prayer today is that there would be a decrease in these numbers and a rift in the future stats.
    I will also lift up Lidya today.
    Blessings over you today as you stand in the gap.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's sad how calloused this world has become! I'll be praying for you today!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. GREAT post! Seriously. That was really awesome and from the heart. Thank you.

    Gretchin

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you so much for this post. Ever since I went to a simulation of an HIV/AIDS training event for the Chinese, I, too, have been broken over this. Another heartbreaking reality is that many are abandoned by family and friends due to ignorance about the disease.
    Thank you for your words of honesty and for bringing this into our fast.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post, Hammer! It is definitely an overwhelming problem when we read the stats like that... I'm so thankful there are organizations like Compassion and
    World Vision
    that give us opportunities to actually do something about it. Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love how you and so many others are posting about Compassion and related organizations. Each has been adddressing a different need. These children do need food, shelter, schooling and God, but we also need to reach out to them in their sickness and sorrow (AIDS/ Lidya loosing her father). Thanks for opening my eyes to this a little more. I am going to write my little boy in Colombia today. I am praying with you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow. Great post , and very sobering to see these statistics.
    I'll be praying for you today, and for compassion to touch everyone's heart that reads your blog today.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for this post. God used it to really wake me up to my own attitude about HIV/AIDS. I pray it does the same for others who may need it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Our Compassion child, Natnael, is from Ethiopia, too. He wrote last year that his mother died. He didn't say from what, but I've wondered if it was AIDS, and I hope and pray that Natnael is healthy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I appreciate your honesty, C-Ham. It's a hard thing to admit, when we take wrong-headed preconceptions and incorporate them into our lives. Stripping away the calluses on our heart is a great place to start in living God's love.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks to each one of you for your kind comments, your encouragement, and especially your prayers.

    Our God is so amazing.

    ReplyDelete