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First-Ever Saddleback AIDS Youth Summit Addresses a Future Without HIV On World Aids Day:

First Daughter Jenna Bush, U2's Bono and Others Challenge 5,000 Teens via Simulcast to 200 Locations in 35 States to Learn More About HIV Care and


LAKE FOREST, Calif., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- First Daughter Jenna Bush, author of "Ana's Story," headlined the first-ever HIV/AIDS Youth Summit at Saddleback Church, held on World AIDS Day, which capped a four-day Global Summit on AIDS & The Church, co-hosted by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren.

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More than 5,000 teens participated in the event, including more than 4,100 via satellite uplink to 200 locations in 35 states and Canada. Related activities included a kick-off concert Friday evening by Disney musical sensation Jordan Pruitt and a high-flying motocross demonstration by Riders for Christ.

"Nothing has taken so many lives and is so incurable as AIDS," Dr. Rick Warren said. "While we are looking for a cure, we need to care. But before you can care, you need to be aware; then you need to dare to do something about it."

"Why are we doing this conference?" Dr. Warren asked rhetorically. "Because Jesus cared about sick people, and commands us to have that same compassion. Sympathy says, 'I'm sorry you hurt;' Empathy asks, 'How can I help you?' but compassion says, 'I will do anything I can to help you.'"

Kay Warren shared a testimony of her personal journey as a woman "seriously disturbed" by global need as she became aware of how much people around the world want our compassion and love. "We're here on World AIDS Day to help make a difference," she said, referencing this year's theme, 'Leadership: Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise.'

"I pray for you everyday as young people, because you are the future," said Mrs. Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia. "AIDS has no boundaries, but success has no headquarters. There will be no success in overcoming this disease if you don't protect yourselves.

"The message is clear: we need you in the fight against HIV/AIDS," Mrs. Mwanawasa continued. "As parents we play our role, but the responsibility falls on you -- and with God, you cannot fail."

South African pastor John Thomas gave a frank, hard-hitting presentation on 'Sex: Doing it God's Way -- on Purpose.' "We don't talk about sex in church, but you sit there with all those hormones," he said. "AIDS has drawn back the curtain to our bedrooms, exposed our moral lives and then leaves its business card behind. But God has a sexual plan for your life."

First Daughter Jenna Bush shared her experiences in Panama working for UNICEF as chronicled in her new book. In "Ana's Story," she relates transferable principles that changed her life after meeting a young 17-year- old single mother who was herself infected with HIV at birth and has since lived a life filled with abuse.

"She [Ana] wanted me to tell you that if you know someone, a child, facing similar hardships that Ana faces, you should tell them they are not alone and it is okay to get the help they need to keep themselves safe," Ms. Bush said.

"You are probably asking yourself how can I make a difference, what can I possibly do?" Ms. Bush continued. "Often it's the smallest gesture of kindness that makes a huge difference. First, get educated on HIV/AIDS and know the difference between myths and facts. Then start a dialogue with your friends and families and at school. But the most important thing you can do is to protect yourself and others."

Irish rock star Bono gave a passionate plea to the next generation of leaders in the response to HIV/AIDS. "These are important issues -- not just on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, or Dec. 2 or Dec. 3 -- but for the work Saddleback and your partners in Rwanda are doing 365 days of the year -- that's an incredible thing; we are a long way from beating this pandemic," he said. "I think it's important to stop and take a minute to look back at how far we've come, but then we've got to get back to work -- it's not a cause, it's an emergency."

This Summit is an extension of the annual Global Summit on AIDS & The Church, held by Saddleback over the past three years. In addition to creating awareness and action among the next generation -- most of whom have never know life without AIDS -- the church today launched the Saddleback Orphan initiative, through which teenagers were encouraged to prayerfully and financially adopt an orphan through a participating church that would love and nurture that child.

SOURCE Saddleback Church
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