World AIDS Day 2012 | By Kay Warren
World AIDS Day 2012 is past – but, oh, what an incredible day at Saddleback Church! Months of planning culminated in thousands of attendees hearing from Timothy Brown – the Berlin Patient – the first man cured of HIV, Gene and Chris Landers, a discordant couple, and 13 year old Cynthia Styffe, a former Rwandan orphan adopted by a Saddleback family.
HIV&AIDS has touched each of these individuals in devastating ways, but HIV didn’t win! Timothy’s immune system was decimated by HIV, leading to leukemia and other life-threatening illnesses, but because of a bone marrow transplant, his immune system is now free of HIV. Gene and Chris’ marriage was threatened by Gene’s HIV diagnosis, but God’s grace and tender mercies allowed them to build a stronger marriage than ever before. HIV didn’t win! Cynthia’s birth parents and her baby brother died of AIDS in Rwanda. She and her older brother were sent to an orphanage because their grandmother couldn’t take care of them. But a family from Saddleback knew God was calling them to adopt, and they opened their hearts and their homes to Cynthia, her older brother, and another little girl in the same orphanage. They are no longer orphans but son and daughters! HIV didn’t win!
This is how we are Getting to Zero – through medical breakthroughs, universal access to life-saving medication, acceptance and grace, and orphans finding permanent families. HIV kills; it destroys relationships; it leaves orphans – but when Christ-followers decide that we won’t tolerate the devastation any longer, we step into an exciting future where HIV won’t win anymore. Let’s Get to Zero!