turning the tide

break the silence

A huge part of what we do at Thrive Africa is AIDS prevention. I love our strategy for combating HIV because I know we are making a difference. The fruit speaks for itself. And I don't mind shouting that from my blog. Because it's not a pat on my back, it's a pat on God's.

There are a lot of agencies focusing on the effects of the AIDS crisis--building hospices to care for the dying, establishing orphanages for the scores of children left parentless, and providing services to those infected and affected by HIV. I believe in the urgent need for each one of those things. But I also know if we don't start focusing on the cause of the AIDS crisis, we're going to lose an entire generation in Africa.

The vision God's burned into my heart is to mobilize next generation leaders to live God-honoring lives. The only thing that will truly turn the tide of the AIDS pandemic is lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Long-lasting behavioral change comes from the work of God in a submitted heart. So we teach thousands of students each week in public schools about the purpose God has for them and how to avoid getting HIV so they can actually fulfill that purpose.

Our reason for teaching students isn’t just to prevent them from getting AIDS. Our primary purpose is to lead them into growing relationships with God. As they grow as Christ-following leaders, they'll learn to make wise choices in every area of their lives.

You can learn more about our AIDS prevention program, how you can invest into Africa, and opportunities to serve with us on Thrive's website.

i am only one, but i am one

aids ribbon"I am only one, but I am one.I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everett Hale

Everyone can do something in the fight against AIDS. Don't let the enormity of the task keep you from doing the something you can do.

Learn as much as you can, discover what you're passionate about, and throw your full weight into that passion.

  • Discover which aspect of the AIDS crisis resonates with your heart. It will be different for different people, and that's okay! You may not know yet what you're passionate about in regards to fighting the AIDS pandemic. So begin by reading about the multi-faceted issues involved. Your heart will be gripped by something as you research. It might be orphan care, or medical intervention, or prevention/abstinence programs. Whatever it is, find your passion.
  • Find an organization that shares your passion. Again, this may take some digging. But there are plenty of solid ministries out there targeting the various aspects of AIDS.
  • Connect as much as possible with the cause/organization you believe in. The more you know and understand about their vision and strategies, the more you can be a megaphone for them.
  • Interact with the organization and its team. Visit their website, comment on their blog posts, ask for specific prayer requests. Passion grows when you truly become part of something. Family members have the same blood in their veins. Join the family. Get the vision coursing through you till you bleed it.
  • Use your voice and influence to promote the cause you believe in. You can do that through blog posts, sidebar widgets, twitter updates, and personal conversations. You could commit to a monthly megaphone day on your blog where you highlight different aspects of what’s being done, what the needs are, and opportunities for others to get involved.
  • Be passionate about it. Anyone can plug something, but passion is unmistakable. People will know how much you really believe in what you’re saying.
  • Pray. Prayer really does change things.
  • Contribute financially to support the work that's being done.
  • Get off your "but" and go. Drop the excuses and go see for yourself. Travel overseas to not only see the work in action but to participate in it. The best advocates are those who’ve been involved. And I guarantee it will change your life forever.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What are you currently doing to help in the fight against AIDS? What are you going to start doing? What other suggestions do you have for ways people can get involved?

you CAN do something

AIDS is a reality you don’t have the luxury to ignore.

Bono wrote in his book On the Move---

6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drugstore. This is not about charity; this is about justice and equality.

Because there’s no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we’re honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in Southeast Asia with the tsunami. 150,000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, “mother nature.” In Africa 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.

There is a continent—Africa—being consumed by flames.I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did---or did not do---to put the fire out in Africa.

History, like God, is watching what we do.

Don’t close your eyes or turn your head away. People are dying for you to do something.


What will you do to learn more about the AIDS crisis? What will you do with what you know?

four:th of a nation

aids-ribbon They say that one in four South Africans has AIDS.

And I know it's true. I see it all around me: In the funeral tents that dot the horizon, in the sunken cheeks of a woman my age, in the lifelessness of the eighteen-month-old boy in my lap...

He says that there is hope.

And I know it's true. I see it all around me: In the faces that light up when they hear---for the first time---that there's a God who loves them, in the signed commitments to save sex for marriage, in the smile that spreads across the face of the lifeless toddler in my lap...

Sometimes it's easier to see the reality of what they say. But if I look closely, I can't miss the reality of what He says.

Lord, give me eyes to see...

an open apology

"Our journey from Christianity to Christ." That tagline is what intrigued me most about An Open Apology. Last month they approached me about writing a guest post for their site. My short challenge about the AIDS crisis went live while I was in Italy.

If you want a 60-second read and a challenge for the weekend, head over and read my post.

fight poverty with hope

Ask any little boy in America what he wants to be when he grows up and you might hear firefighter, doctor, or astronaut. Little girls will say they want to be teachers, nurses, lawyers. Though their answers differ, these children all have something in common: They can answer the question.

Ask a child in Africa what he or she wants to be when all grown up and you may be met with a blank stare. Shrugging shoulders. "I don't know." They can't comprehend the question and they don't know how to answer. They don't know, because they don't know how to dream.

I've seen the blank stares. I've watched the shoulders shrug. I've heard the "I don't know"s. Once when I asked a young boy what he wants to be when he grows up, he answered with a statement that has never left me: "I want to be alive."

Poverty kills dreams. It murders hope. It squashes every last ounce of ambition. Poverty impacts the old, but targets the young. It steals more than full bellies and healthy bodies; it suffocates the future and squanders potential.

What Africa needs---what anyone affected by poverty needs---is not a hand-out. Africa needs more than charity, more than money, more than employment opportunities. All of those are vitally important, but Africa needs something even greater. Africa needs to learn to dream again.

Next time you choose to make a donation, contribute your skills, or give of your time for someone or some organization, find a way to also instill hope, offer encouragement, shine a light at the end of their tunnel. As you spark dreams in people's hearts, you're doing the best thing you can do to eradicate poverty.

_______________________________________________ This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty.

four minute friday: hope

Go. I'm off to Hope House in an hour. That's the local orphanage I take our interns to each Friday afternoon. This is one of the things I missed most while I was in America.

I love watching the kids' eyes light up as they learn something new. I love seeing them shoot their hands in the air, volunteering to help with the object lesson. I love the zeal with which they recite their memory verses.

But mostly I love sitting quietly with one or two of them, lavishing them with love and feeling my heart be strengthened.

I've been hearing stories of how much the kids have grown, and all the new things they're capable of doing now. I'm looking forward to seeing a healthy Nkosi, a walking, talking, happy Katleho, an interactive Mbali. I'm looking forward to seeing our interns in action, doing what they do best.

I'm tired today and feel like I don't have much to offer. But my arms aren't too tired to hug and to hold; that much I can do. I can be a quiet refuge for a child who needs just that.

This is the perfect ending to my week.


just plain hard

She asked me what my weekend would hold. I told her my Grandma had passed away and that the memorial/burial service is on Saturday. I will never forget her response. "At least you're used to facing a lot of death in Africa, so that makes this easier to deal with."

Let me tell you what I didn't tell her: Nothing makes this easier.

The fact that I live in a country with an astronomical death rate, where I often know people who pass away, makes nothing easier. One in four South Africans have AIDS, but those numbers, the ones and the fours, aren't just numbers. They are people. They are you; they are me; they are our families.

Consistently facing sickness and death makes neither easier to deal with. Maybe it makes my approach different than someone else's, maybe it even makes me want to be numb to it all, but it certainly doesn't make it easier.

Although I wanted to say all that, I simply smiled a flat, unconvincing smile. She changed the subject and moved on, for which I was grateful.

We are on our way to the cemetery this morning. Nothing makes this easier.

Today is just plain hard.