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ELCA World Hunger

World AIDS Day: The Lazarus Effect

Tomorrow is the 22nd World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness and fight the stigma of HIV and AIDS (see also the very informative Web page).  As I have written earlier,

AIDS and hunger are closely intertwined.  AIDS is rapidly spreading in the most impoverished areas of the world—places where education, women’s and children’s rights, and peace are hard to come by.  Many areas, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, are trapped in a vicious cycle in which the symptoms of poverty facilitate the spread of the disease while the lives and productivity lost to the pandemic further impoverish vulnerable communities.  Moreover, AIDS is especially devastating to hungry persons.  Malnourished persons cannot take anti-retroviral drugs—an empty stomach cannot handle the powerful medicine.  In the absence of drugs and adequate nutrition, HIV develops into AIDS more quickly.  Once a person has AIDS, more food is needed to fight the illness and counteract weight loss.

On the flip side, when someone is given the food and drugs that are essential to effectively addressing the disease the results are miraculous.

This year, take some time to watch the Lazarus Effect and learn more about HIV and AIDS and the amazing transformations that can happen if someone is simply given access to life saving drugs (drugs that cost less 40 cents a day!).   After watching, do something about it: learn more, share the film with a friend, give.

David Creech

The raising of our neighbor, Lazarus

The Gospel text for Sunday, March 8, “The Raising of Lazarus,” is found in John 11:1–45. This has been one of my favorite texts for years, ever since I edited an LWT article. The author* wrote something along the lines of “Jesus saved Lazarus from premature death. Unlike Jesus, Lazarus will die again. As followers of Jesus, that’s our challenge, too…to save our neighbors from premature death.

Until that day, this text spoke to me about what Jesus could do (raise people from the dead) and what Jesus was about to do (head to Jerusalem and the cross). Now, when I hear this passage of Scripture I also hear a reminder of what I can do. I am response-able for helping to save my neighbor from premature death.

Premature death: One child dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes. The average life expectancy of a female in Zimbabwe is 37 years; the average life expectancy of a female in the United States is 80 years.**

Life-saving difference: Literacy programs teach parents how to read, and scholarship programs help their children attend graduate from primary school and beyond; wells and reservoirs bring life-giving water to whole communities; animal and agriculture projects help families put food on the table and money in the bank. ELCA domestic hunger grants help congregations, organizations, and ministries help neighbors close to home meet today’s needs and build a better future.

Response-able: We can give generously to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. We can send advocacy e-mails. We can donate our time and volunteer. Throughout the year we can link our congregations to ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Response.

With God’s grace and spirit: Our eyes open to the needs around us. Our arms open to embrace neighbors we’ll never meet. Our hearts open to care about the people behind the statistics. Our imaginations open to see the possibilities of God. Our hands open in service and generosity.

*I believe the author to be the Rev. Phyllis Kersten, but my sources are unavailable for confirmation.
**The appendices at the back of Bread for the World Institute’s annual reports are a great source for statistical information.