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Third Annual Saddleback Global Summit on AIDS & The Church Focuses on Cooperative Leadership:

Two African First Ladies Join Pastor Rick and Kay Warren and Other Leaders

in Addressing Local Church-Based Strategy

LAKE FOREST, Calif., Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Rick and Kay Warren opened the third annual Saddleback Global Summit on AIDS & The Church by challenging attendees on the desperate need for leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"People are asking, 'How many people have AIDS?' -- but that is the wrong question; rather, we should be asking, 'Why should anyone have AIDS?'," Dr. Warren said. "You are God's plan to bring relief to this pandemic."

"There are some things in this world that I don't have hope for, but I believe in the depth of my heart that HIV/AIDS can be stopped, because it will only take one thing -- real leaders," Dr. Warren added.

Together, the Warrens outlined five traits of real leaders that parallel the objectives of the conference, to develop leadership that is aware; accumulates knowledge; are advocates and activists; and are available. Using the model of a three-legged stool, they reiterated that to end AIDS, leadership is needed in all three sectors -- public, profit and parish -- at the international, national, church, city, business and individual levels.

"When it comes to AIDS, it is not enough to just have tender feelings in your heart -- caring for people with HIV isn't enough," Kay Warren added. "We must also be activists, which involves an intentional plan in your heart for good and for change. We have a call from God to raise our voices -- do not wait for perfect conditions."

Joining the Warrens for the opening session were two wives of African heads of state, including the First Lady of Rwanda, Her Excellency Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, and the First Lady of Zambia, Madame Maureen Mwanawasa. Both women are actively involved in the Organization of African First Ladies Fight against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), working with their counterparts from 50 other African nations to find solutions to this pandemic on the Continent.

"We have entered an important stage in the struggle against AIDS, and are beginning to see the fruits of the many efforts over the years," said First Lady Kagame. "But we have to remain steadfast. Now, more than ever, we have all the tools we need to turn despair into hope."

First Lady Mwanawasa reminded the audience that AIDS transcends all societies. "I am not saying to fight AIDS, but to conquer it," she said. "Today we call on leaders from all sectors of society to join hands with the Church and double efforts to fight AIDS, especially encouraging abstinence among young people. At home, we teach, 'Abstinence is cool.'"

Other speakers throughout the day echoed the importance of individual compassion, the various sectors working together and the vital role that the Church is playing in this effort.

In speaking about the seven reasons the local church must lead, South African Pastor John Thomas explained that AIDS is 95 percent a moral problem requiring a spiritual/moral resolution. "The Church is God's solution," he said. "It is the only organization that can combat AIDS, as it is everywhere and is the most grassroots organization imaginable."

According to Lynne Hybels, wife of Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago, AIDS is not about the statistics, it's about the people. "Good intentions are not enough. We must carefully plan, but must do with a sense of urgency," because while we are planning, people are dying.

"The antidote to feeling overwhelmed is not to think about the big solution, but to think about the small solution that can make a difference. The big solution is too big to handle, but we can all make a difference in some small way," Mrs. Hybels added.

"The war on AIDS is a giant-sized battle we must win, but we can't ignore those with no voice -- children orphaned by AIDS," said Dennis Rainey president, CEO and co-founder of FamilyLife. "I believe today is the time for the Christian community to determine what it believes about outreach of compassion to the world -- and specifically what we will do to address the needs of orphans."

Long-time AIDS activist David Miller, a founding member of ACT UP New York, shared his journey from hate to love, as well as a passionate plea on behalf of all who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

"Give us a Manhattan project on AIDS, bringing the scientists and doctors who have so much intelligence and creativity together to bring an end to this horror around the world -- to really start working for a cure," Mr. Miller said. "Help your followers in the churches of this country make each church a shelter, each kitchen a blessing, and for my brothers and sisters with HIV who are cold and hungry -- a sanctuary."

"Let the men and women in elected office hear our voices and understand our meaning," he added. "Give us the medications we need, the hope we crave and the faith we depend on to steal another day from HIV."


A. Larry Ross (469) 274-6229

Whitney Kelley (214) 457-1398

SOURCE Saddleback Global Summit on AIDS & The Church
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