Think of the Starving This
As America prepares to gather around the table for a Thanksgiving Day feast, please
consider that 14.4 million people in southern Africa face the threat of starvation.
This year the famine is not just due to bad weather, but AIDS.
Most of the 2.3 million Africans who died of AIDS last year are young adults, many of
whom were too weak to plant crops or to harvest them. As they weakened and died, they left
behind 12 million orphans who wander streets searching for food.
In Botswana a stunning 39 percent of the population is infected and 20 percent of South
Africa are HIV positive - 4.7 million people.
"I really trusted my husband," says Brigitte Syamaleuwe, a 40 year old Zambian woman.
She knew she had not had sex with anyone else. When she tested HIV positive, she felt
"totally shattered." Nor is this rare. A study in nearby Uganda found 60 percent of HIV-positive women
were married and monogamous.
An extraordinary new effort is being mobilized to fight this triple pandemic of millions dying of AIDS and starvation that is orphaning millions of children. Its leader is an American
hero named Bruce Wilkinson. You may have read his little book, "The Prayer of Jabez," about
an obscure Biblical character who prayed that God would "bless me indeed, and enlarge my
territory, that your hand would be with me..."
He has prayed that prayer every day for 30 years, and has seen God answer it
"in such a way that you knew beyond a doubt that God had done it."
Founder and president of "Walk Thru the Bible
Ministries," Wilkinson began conducting 25 conferences a year teaching how to read the entire Bible in a year. Now there are 2,500
conferences a year. In 1998, he began "WorldTeach" to establish the world's largest Bible
teaching faculty that has already trained 12,000 teachers around the world.
This year he lived the prayer in a new way by resigning at Walk Thru with the idea of
going to Hollywood to make films and TV to move people to turn to God. First he went to
Africa to teach for three weeks, and saw the triple tragedy of famine, AIDS and orphans.
"What happened on that trip changed my life. I moved to Africa six weeks
ago," he told leaders at the Heritage Foundation this fall.
"I ran headlong into real pain and trauma. I could not move. It was overwhelming, as
strong as a raging river." A vision came to him of "God's answer to AIDS. We are trying to
mobilize partnerships such as Promise Keepers to gather this February the largest conference ever
of pastors, 50,000 pastors, who we hope will challenge 10,000 white suburban and black urban
churches to send people, black and white, to take responsibility for that region, and not allow
women to die of hunger again, to see if they can help with AIDS orphans.
"What you find in America is a desire to make a difference, unlike any other nation.
People are dying of pain. This is not what God intended. We must move to end the pain. When
Americans of faith come, they will say, `This is not right. We will be agents of mercy.' If they see
millions of orphans on the street, with no place to live, they will go home and build orphanages.
When they meet people who are dying of hunger, and see the reality - they will not be able to
cope with it," Wilkinson said.
"I went to see one pastor, who said, `My wife is sick. She is dying.' She was on a mat.
My son said, `What are you dying from, hunger?' She looked at the pastor, and said. `Yes.' The
lady said, `Give me your hand.' She held onto it and said, `I have had four of my best friends,
each one, die of hunger."'
"`The Prayer of Jabez' taps into this deep human desire to live a life that matters, that is
of significance. Some will go on to a life of sacrificial service for
others." This Thanksgiving will you simply eat a big turkey dinner and stare at TV football until
you fall asleep?
Or will you do something significant for people dying of AIDS or hunger, or their
Two suggestions. Click on http://www.WorldVision.org
to see how to contribute. And send your pastor to Phoenix Feb. 18-20, to "Come Near to
Me," an event that could change what it means to be a pastor in America. See