Evangelicals Responding to the Challenge of AIDS on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is 1 December and the Global AIDS Prayer Partnership is launching two new initiatives to help mobilize an evangelical response to the AIDS pandemic.

Every hour 354 people die of AIDS. That’s about one every ten seconds. That's like a Boeing 747 crashing every hour, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. More than three million people die annually from a largely preventable but incurable disease, and the pace of this global pandemic continues to accelerate. The AIDS pandemic is the greatest humanitarian challenge the world, and the Church, has ever faced. Every 1 December, on World AIDS Day, millions of people take note of these facts and remember those who are suffering.

Until recently; however, the evangelical church has been largely unconcerned and even judgmental toward AIDS and those suffering under the burden of this global emergency. That is changing as more evangelical leaders speak out and call the Church to respond. Local church participation in World AIDS Day is still lacking, but a new strategic prayer ministry is helping change that.

The Global AIDS Prayer Partnership (GAPP), a growing coalition of evangelical Christian organizations, denominations and local churches, is at the forefront of this change. GAPP is co-chaired by Dr. Paul Cedar, chairman of the Mission America Coalition, and Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Dr. Ted Yamamori, international director of the Lausanne Committee, serves as special advisor to Brian Considine, international coordinator and executive director for GAPP.  

Now entering the second year of operation, GAPP has been building a platform for united prayer to create awareness of AIDS, and has primarily targeted the United States evangelical community in their efforts.

“There are a reported one hundred million evangelicals in the United States,” said Considine. “If we can get just a small fraction responding to this crisis, we can make a huge difference in our world. And, the easy ‘on-ramp’ to involving the local church is prayer.”

GAPP and their coalition partners are introducing two new initiatives this 1 December. The first, “Global AIDS Sunday,” is an annual call to prayer, remembrance and awareness “The evangelical community has largely been absent on World AIDS Day, due principally to the secular nature of the day, but we must change that,” Considine said.

Global AIDS Sunday will be held annually on the two Sundays adjacent to World AIDS Day (this year 27 November and 4 December). Resources will be made available for participating churches. “We are encouraging local churches to set aside a few minutes, on the Sunday of their choice, to remember and pray for all those who are suffering,” Considine said.  “We are also encouraging Christians to learn what is happening in their communities on World AIDS Day, to get involved and to bear the light of Christ.” 

The second initiative, “Three Million Voices,” is representative of the three million people who die annually due to AIDS and AIDS-related diseases. The purpose of this campaign is to mobilize intercession and compassionate action for those who die annually from AIDS. The hope is to help millions of children left orphaned or vulnerable, devastated families and communities and potentially even entire nations.

A “Declaration of Commitment” to a lifestyle of prayer-care-share toward the end of AIDS is the centerpiece of this new initiative. Church leaders across America are signing the declaration and calling the Church to do likewise. Haggard, one of the original signors, stated, “I have personally signed the declaration because it speaks to the heart of what I believe must be the Church’s response to the AIDS pandemic and I encourage all Christians in (the United States) to join with me in this commitment to a lifestyle of prayer-care-share to end AIDS.” The goal is to have 100,000 signatures to present at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto next summer. Online signing will begin 1 December.

“The evangelical community must rise up to the challenge of AIDS, both locally and globally, if we are to be relevant in the twenty-first century,” Considine said. “To that end, we seek to build a movement towards an epidemic of compassion and for Christians everywhere to pray to end AIDS.” Global AIDS Sunday and Three Million Voices are two ways to get involved this World AIDS Day.

For more information, visit http://www.praytoendaids.com/.

Brian Considine is the international coordinator for the Global AIDS Prayer Partnership. GAPP serves as the official voice of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization on HIV/AIDS.