Staff Editorial: World AIDS day recognized almost everywhere except Biola

World AIDS day on Dec. 1 went virtually unrecognized at Biola — why?


A red ribbon hangs at the White House to commemorate the 24th World Aids Day on December 1, 2012. | Courtesy of Elvert Barnes [Creative Commons]

Chimes Staff, Writer

A red ribbon hangs at the White House to commemorate the 24th World AIDS Day on December 1, 2012. | Courtesy of Elvert Barnes [Creative Commons]

Forty minutes away from Biola’s campus at Saddleback Church, all of last weekend’s services were dedicated to raising compassionate awareness for those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. In tandem with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Rick Warren’s wife Kay delivered a moving sermon, multiple interactive exhibits stood outside the sanctuary, and the church offered free HIV testing. The first person ever cured from AIDS, Timothy Ray Brown, was a guest speaker, turning down a day with President Obama to spend time at the evangelical megachurch.

At Biola, however, Dec. 1 looked like any other day. Nothing was mentioned in the chapels before or after the date, despite the fact that HIV/AIDS is still the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. This was a great opportunity to spur students to care about a disease wracked with a stigma that the church can work to eliminate. Biola has recognized World AIDS Day in the past  — yet this year, we chose to stay silent.

While we ask ourselves why Biola didn’t do anything to recognize the AIDS crisis, we must also ask why it did or didn’t do anything to highlight thousands of other awareness days over the course of the year. The sheer number of days devoted to making people cognizant of social problems is astronomical, to the point where we are not physically able to give equal attention to all of them. This presents the dilemma of determining which issues to devote our time and thoughts to. Is AIDS more worthy of our attention than, say, child abuse? Modern slavery?

The issue of AIDS should be especially important in the evangelical church right now, not only on account of its incredible significance globally, but also because of unjustified stigmas present within the church that say only gays and junkies are susceptible to AIDS — implicitly suggesting in the process that we don’t need to care about these people. This is both unloving and ignorant; vulnerability to AIDS is by no means limited to these all-too-often marginalized groups, and even if they were, we as the church are called to love all people, regardless of their lifestyle. When the church makes such dismissive and ill-informed judgments, the detriment is twofold: Not only do we fail to reach out to the world, but the world notices our failure and condemns us for it. When the church intentionally seeks to correct ignorance and indifference, we better equip ourselves for service while also making ourselves more credible to a world in need of Christ’s love.

On a personal level, we certainly can’t maintain constant care for all the crises with which the world challenges us and activists convict us. God uses and imparts our individual focuses and connections with issues, and World AIDS Day may not launch us into deep primary ministries. Even so, it shouldn’t brushed off like a summit for the furniture polish industry either. Following Jesus’ example, we do not have a limit of crises or types of people to be aware of. World AIDS Day was a chance we all had to fortify ourselves with reality, and at least to pray for those who have made AIDS not an annual cause, but a daily one.

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