World AIDS Day

The United Nations reports that nearly 40 million people in the world are infected with HIV/AIDS. In some countries in southern Africa, one third of the population is infected. In light of this suffering, InterVarsity will offer a track at Urbana 06, Mission through the Lens of AIDS.

Urbana 06 is InterVarsity’s Student Missions Convention that will be held in St Louis, Missouri, December 27-31, 2006. More than 20,000 attendees are expected.

A new book, i>The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do, has just been published by InterVarsity Press. The book is written by Deborah Dortzbach, international director for HIV/AIDS programs with World Relief, and Meredith Long, vice president for planning and integration at World Relief. Both are directly involved with efforts to mobilize the local church in the campaign to combat HIV/AIDS around the world.

Urbana’s AIDS track will be led by Dr. James Thomas, director of the Program in Public Health Ethics at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. The leadership team includes Emmanuel Katongole, associate professor at Duke Divinity School and Grace Tazelaar, missions director for Nurses Christian Fellowship.

Dr. Thomas and Dr. Katongole have developed a program outline that includes medical and historical background about the epidemic and a response that Christians may make individually and through their church. Participants will look at the AIDS epidemic as a means to foster mercy, compassion, justice, reconciliation, humility, and unity, characteristics that God desires for his church. Drs. Thomas and Katongole understand AIDS offers American churches an opportunity to relearn biblical views about sexuality, the roles of women in societies, and racial reconciliation. The track participants will be encouraged to approach the suffering of their brothers and sisters with humility, sensitivity, and God’s love.

Grace Tazelaar brings a rich background in AIDS work to the Urbana 06 track. In the late 1980s, when the epidemic was first evident in Africa, Ms. Tazelaar was working as a pubic health nurse in Uganda. She was invited by government officials to help develop a response to the illness. The result of their work was the well known ABC program, which emphasizes abstaining from sex outside marriage, being faithful to your spouse, and condom use. However, Ms. Tazelaar is convinced that even a successful program like ABC is not the sole solution, that the war against AIDS is a spiritual battle. When advances are made against this disease, glory should be given to God.

The Mission Through the Lens of AIDS track will emphasize that there are no quick fixes to solving the problem of AIDS. But we can learn. We can pray. And we can act to support those who are suffering.

i>The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do, a new InterVarsity Press book
Urbana, World AIDS Day
Urbana, Ryan’s Stories
Urbana, Emmanuel’s Story
Urbana, Ses’khona
Mission Network News coverage
2006 Global Summit on AIDS and the Church: Race Against Time at Saddleback Church
Kaiser Network
United Nations
General Statistics

IFES – Uganda
Global AIDS Prayer Partnership

World Vision: websitearticle
World Relief