This article, by LWR President, Kathryn Wolford, appeared in the May, 2001 edition of the Bread for the World Newsletter.
I have seen a look of numbness cloud the faces in an audience when I recount statistics on HIV/AIDS in Africa. I have watched empathy give way to a shaking head of resignation when speaking of famine and war in Africa. To be honest, there are moments when I find myself overwhelmed by grim headlines and faceless statistics.
"Don't give up on us because we have not given up on ourselves." Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, a Kenyan and the eloquent General Secretary of the World YWCA, closed a recent presentation with these words. She wasn't speaking these words to men and women on her home continent. She was speaking to us, Christians in the United States. Her words invite and challenge us to recommit to "stand together" with African churches and communities working for social and economic change.
The statistics on HIV/AIDS and hunger in Africa are daunting, but there are many examples where concerted action by churches, citizens' groups and governments has turned the tide.
Key roles for US Christians include prayer, deep reflection on root causes, resource sharing, and using our power as consumers and citizens. With vision and the hope that comes from faith, we can be salt and light. And, if we are to stand together, we can't operate with the mentality of quick fixes. This race is not for the sprinters.
Kanyoro and so many others in the Africa churches, well-known leaders and unsung heroes in local communities alike, wait for what is not seen, with patience. Not with resignation nor hopelessness, but rather the patience that attends to the immediate while keeping a keen eye on the horizon. It is the patience, perseverance, and dedication of the long distance runner. It is a patience born of faith in God's promise.
Other Articles of Interest:
What Would Jesus Do About Aids?