Throughout human history, tragedies have served as opportunities for the church to be a source of hope, conscience, and witness. In the crucible of unbelievable human suffering, God offers various generations the privilege to be a light during seasons of great moral tragedy.
Fortunately, such occasions of world historical significance are rare. On such occasions, the church has too frequently failed to obey God's call to be a witness against despair and death, and then stands naked before God and the world with the blood of the innocent on its hands. The church's inadequate response to the destruction of European Jewry during World War II and the genocide in Rwanda are clear and unfortunate examples of such missed opportunities.
Admittedly, such crises are complex and do not yield to simplistic rhetoric or solutions. And on more than a few questions, well-intentioned solutions are worse than the "disease" they are intended to cure. However, even with the complexities and tragedy noted, the church is obligated to stand on the side of the poor and neglected.
At the beginning of a new century, the church in the United States has a unique challenge and opportunity to be a powerful voice of conscience and practical reason in the face of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our times: The AIDS holocaust in sub-Saharan Africa.
AIDS is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Consider the facts: