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Post #49: Church and the AIDS crisis

I was reading Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance last night–great book, it’s out of print but you can find it used on Amazon and/or I could loan it to you–and I found this one part that pretty much sums up how I feel about church lately:

“Church doesn’t stimulate me the way it used to. It is most often the same as the week before. The worship lyrics are presented on a screen that has all but the little bouncing ball over the words, then the pastor gets up for a ten-minute sermon that could be understood by a group of third graders.* It is as if the church is ashamed to present the Gospel for what it is. We’ve got to water it down and tiptoe around the complicated passages. It is one thing to be seeker-sensitive and another to be silly.”

*My pastor isn’t really like this. He at least preaches about stuff that adults and people my age will get, and he goes for, oh, I don’t know, half an hour?

The funny thing about all these seeker-sensitive type services is that they assume that people who don’t know Christ are going to be drawn to Him through a bunch of happy, up-tempo worship songs and a sermon about how their lives can be better because of Jesus. People, or at least people I know, get really turned off by that. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have something real than something that’s just happy. People, even Christian people, have their moments when they doubt, when they’re sad, when they have problems with their family, when they’re depressed. Somehow I just don’t see that addressed so much in church, except the occasional, “Well, just take all your troubles to God and He’ll take care of it.” Which isn’t to say that that’s a lie. It really is true. It’s just, well, where’s the compassion there?

I’m sorry, guys, but that’s just how I feel.

* * * * * *
Hey, did anyone catch President Bush’s State of the Union address the other night? I watched most of it, heard about the whole “Hey, let’s go get Saddam” plan, the tax cuts, blah blah blah blah. All that lovely political stuff. Oh, yeah, and the Congressional aerobics: Stand, clap, sit down again, repeat. Repeat more often if you’re Republican.

Anyway, the part that really stood out to me was this:

“As our Nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling, as a blessed country, to make this world better. Today, on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus including three million children under the age of 15. There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection. More than four million require immediate drug treatment. Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims only 50,000 are receiving the medicine they need.

Because the AIDS diagnosis is considered a death sentence, many do not seek treatment. Almost all who do are turned away. A doctor in rural South Africa describes his frustration. He says, We have no medicines many hospitals tell [people], You ve got AIDS. We can’t help you. Go home and die.

In an age of miraculous medicines, no person should have to hear those words. AIDS can be prevented. Anti-retroviral drugs can extend life for many years. And the cost of those drugs has dropped from 12,000 dollars a year to under 300 dollars a year which places a tremendous possibility within our grasp.

Ladies and gentlemen, seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many. We have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country. And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and for children orphaned by AIDS. I ask the Congress to commit 15 billion dollars over the next five years, including nearly ten billion dollars in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.”

The reason that impressed me so much is because I’m sort of a grassroots spokesperson for this organization called DATA (that stands for Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa) and they’ve been working to get our government to help out the continent of Africa and such. Apparently, they got through. $15 billion, huh? That sounds pretty good. HIV and AIDS might not get totally eradicated because of that, but it’s at least a start. Now, why am I so concerned about these people in Africa? Well, Proverbs 31:8-9 says this: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I figure this is a good way to help. (Ha, and you just thought Proverbs 31 was just about that “woman of noble character.”)

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