As you may know, today is World AIDS Day and by the end of today at least 6000 will have died from the complications related to it. Approximately 40 million people around the world have it, 25 million are in Africa, majority are women and children.This year’s theme is No Child Born With Aids by 2015.

A few years ago while we were getting ready for our mission trip to serve at an AIDS camp in Nassau, Bahamas, I shared some of these statistics at a coffee shop and one person said, “40 million isn’t that bad considering the world has 6 billion people.” And had I not cut him off, I fear he would have continued by saying something like “And we all die of something”. Yep, but let us not die from stupidity or apathy or preventable diseases. I did manage to explain that the number would be higher but almost 3 million die from it a year but I think he stopped listening.

Some of you know me and you hear me talking about supporting clean water campaigns, fighting human trafficking, and among other things, sharing the good news of Jesus and I know some people get tired of that. Our world has problems and I worship a God that is loving and read a Bible who among its major themes is the idea of redemption. I know that sounds so self-righteousness and while I seek forgivness and humility, may we be united in sharing hope and goodness to others.

Because of my faith, these problems and crises are heartbreaking to me and this brings some motivation and frankly, I need more and I pray that I can be found in my community. Further because of Jesus, we as Christians must be among those who lead the way to help those in need, those in pain, and those that are dying.

I used to think these types of days required me to donate a lot of money or that in order to truly support these types of causes, one must leave their profession and get directly involved. And that may be your calling, I don’t know, but I do believe that even if you are not conducting clinics on the prevention of AIDS in places like Kenya or working on a vaccination, you can still be involved. Here’s where you can begin:

Seek a heart that truly loves people and allow it to be broken by the pain of others. The compassion of Jesus is so obvious in the gospels and we as believers must reflect that.

Destroy the Excuses – “What can I really do?” and “It’s not going to make a difference” and my favorite one, “Didn’t they already try to solve that?”. At the minimum, everyone has a part to play.

Educate and create awareness. There are so many sites, books, and resources. Here are a few:
Blood: Water Mission particularly this page.
World Aids Campaign
One – You can check out Bono’s special message here.
The Red Campaign

Watch Documentaries like Pandemic: Facing AIDS. (Available on Netflix).

Even Do Some of Your Christmas Shopping Through the Red Campaign

Give What You Should. For my family, it’s a prayerful question that begins with, “What is our part in this?”

Packing AIDS Care Kits

At the Q Conference, we were invited to pack a care kit for AIDS relief workers.  It was pretty cool to pack a box of supplies that would be used in this capacity.

Someone had donated hundreds of these kits to World Vision with the intent of Conference attendees to pack them, include notes and raise awareness for the project. Churches can take part and it’s something that I plan on introducing to ours in the fall.

Here’s the link.

A Living AIDS Quilt

For those interested in the AIDS crisis, some more.

Bono on videocast

Went to a videocast at a church near by to hear Bono speak on Aids.
Granted, I like the music of U2 a lot, I do believe that I still would have gone had it been someone else, (afterall, I listened to the Compassion International guys and there not near as cool). It is interesting that a artist/celebrity of this type isso interested in this issue. It could be he is as person too. Could celebrities be actual people too? Well, maybe some.

The videocast was an interview between Bono and Bill Hybels (the pastor at Willow Creek) that was shown during the Leadership Summit earlier this year.

There has been a great deal of difficulty showing this interview due to legalities and such and I believe that things should be done justly and rightly and well and all that. At the same time, I hope more people get to see this interview. It would be contradictive to the spirit of the interview.

Here is some of the quotes/paraphrases that was said:

– Christians can be judgmental, consumed by the superficial, outward appearances and sexual issues have preoccupied the history of the church but what about greed corporate and selfish
Grace is counter-intuitive
It easier for us to grasp revenge, or atonement then grace.

– We are confounded by some of our prayers remain unanswered, but no prayer is unanswered. Sometimes the answers are no. We can endure and comfort ourselves through the Scriptures.

– Jesus was either an absolutely nutcase or who He said He was.

– Love your neighbor is not advice, it’s a command.

– Stop asking God to bless what you are doing
Find out what God is doing because it is already blessed.
It’s not charity but justice that is difficult (is. 58)

– Data did not begin out of charity but out of justice. Africa was paying the US back more then they were receiving us.
Forgiveness/debt relief is a Scriptural idea – We forget this
What else are you going to do with this thing called celebrity?
It’s ridiculous but its currency.

– Thy kingdom come on earth,
Some are content with pie in the sky but that’s not our purpose
Bring heaven to earth in the micro as well as the macro
Peace that passes understanding at the center of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world.

– The End of Poverty – we are the first generation can change this
Accident of latitude determines whether we live or die.

World Aids Day

A reminder that today is World Aids Day. (Some are wearing Red).

Check out some of the links that are trying to find solutions to the problem that is killing 8500 people a day.

Christmas Shopping With a Cause

– From this on the Relevant website (subscribe to their magazine – it’s a great gift to ask for or to give). Now, some of what is suggested, I am a little uncertain of, like buying jeans for $150 so that some goes to charity (why not actually donate $150?) but the spirit of giving has to include those outside our close family and friends.

“Christmas Shopping with a Cause”
Written by Danny Miller

Philanthropy is becoming more and more the norm for Americans, with recent studies showing that “no other country comes close” to private charitable giving (in 2004, privately, Americans gave $24.2 billion). And combining American holiday consumerism with a passion for international giving is the latest in philanthropic fashion. The trend, which first started turning heads a few years back with bright yellow LIVEstrong bracelets, has gained even more steam as of late. Headlines and trend-watchers have been abuzz over (product) RED, a line of products (including jeans, iPods, cell phones and credit cards) that donates a portion of proceeds to fight AIDS in Africa. Backed by heavy hitters like Bono and Oprah, (product) RED is everywhere this holiday season. Gap Stores across the nation sold out of RED jeans within days of their release (at $150 a pair, by the way). Charity is in, in a big way. Beyond RED, there are lots of options this holiday season to truly get into the spirit of giving, enjoy your Christmas and give to those in need.

TOMS Shoes
TOMS Shoes’ mission is simple. Buy a pair of shoes from their store, and they will donate a pair of matching shoes to a child in need. Founder Blake Mycoskie spent time in South America and saw the field workers wearing alpargatos, a durable traditional slip-on shoe. He was inspired to come back to the States and found TOMS, bringing the shoes to Americans with fashion sense and bringing more shoes to those in need worldwide. TOMS come in a wide array of colors and designs. They look good, you feel good, children get shoes, and everybody wins.

One T-shirt by Edun
For the fashion-forward activists with a little extra dough for Christmas, consider the One shirt by Edun. The shirt, $40 online or at Nordstrom, is pretty rad and is worn by gobs of hip celebrities. One of the coolest aspects of the shirts is that they are made in Lesotho, South Africa, from all African cotton. When you buy one of these shirts, you support African commerce with the West. In addition to that, $10 from every shirt sold goes toward AIDS prevention and medicine in Africa.

iGive works on a simple premise. Shop online through its website at any of its 650 affiliated stores (Barnes & Noble, eBay, Apple, etc.), and those stores will donate a portion of the sale to the charity of your choice. Through this massive site you can do ALL of your shopping at the stores you normally visit anyway, with one key difference: part of the money goes to charity.

At the Mondonation website, you can customize your own shirts and pillowcases with a statement beginning with the words I believe (I believe in love, I believe my mother screens my phone calls, I believe [fill in the blank]). Mondonation donates a percentage of every sale to a charity you can choose from its well-populated list. I believe you should buy something nice for your loved ones from this website.

Sub City Records
Sub City Records gives a sizeable percentage of record sales to charity. Sub City is known for its philanthropic stance; it also runs the Take Action Tour, which benefits suicide prevention. Buy the entire Thrice catalog as well as the other good music they have for sale, and you’ll help support great causes.

Grounds for Change
Grounds for Change is a fair-trade coffee company based out of the Pacific Northwest that sells coffee from all over the globe. Give the gift of joe knowing that you are supporting farmers from South America, Africa and Asia. In addition to supporting fair-trade farmers the world over, Grounds for Change donates a portion of profits to children’s environmental education programs and uses only renewable “green” energy. Grounds for Change is a member of Co-Op America, an organization of socially responsible businesses. Plus the coffee tastes good.

World Vision Catalog
If you (and your gift receiver) are OK without actual gifts changing hands at Christmas, then check out the gift catalog at You can honor that special someone with the gift of a goat. Although a goat might not seem useful to your friend, it can provide milk and dairy products for a whole family in Kenya. You can donate items such as fishing kits, freshwater wells and wheelchairs to families in impoverished nations across the planet.

What Is the What by Dave Eggers
The newest book from critically acclaimed author Dave Eggers is a fictionalized narrative that closely follows the true story of Valentino Achuk Deng, a refugee in war-torn Sudan who survives militias and wild animals to finally make it to America. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Valentino Achuk Deng Foundation which supports Sudanese refugees in America, to relief organizations in Darfur, to rebuilding southern Sudan and to the college education (in America) of Valentino Achuk Deng.

Hope in the Dark Photography by Jeremy Cowart with reflections by Jena Lee
This book seeks to raise awareness for the AIDS epidemic in Africa through compelling photography paired with powerful reflections. A percentage of proceeds go toward Blood:Water Mission, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and promoting clean blood and clean water in Africa.

Danny Miller is an editorial intern at RELEVANT and a student at the University of Central Florida. He has a very socially minded Christmas list.