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Last year, Lutheran World Relief, the ELCA World Hunger Program and LCMS World Relief began to explore the idea of joining together in a special and sustained initiative to tackle pressing problems in Africa with churches and communities there. Partner groups in Africa and world mission staff in both the LCMS and ELCA soon joined the planning. By Lent this year Stand With Africa: A Campaign of Hope was ready for launch.

HIV/AIDS was chosen as the first campaign focus. From afar and in certain places in Africa, its a crisis that is simply overwhelming. According to United Nations estimates, of the 34 million people living with AIDS worldwide, 24.5 million reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 13.2 million AIDS orphans, 12.4 million, or 94 percent, are Africans. Last year AIDS claimed 5,500 African lives each day. This disease and the struggle against it are intensifying. How can something like Stand With Africa even begin to make a difference in the lives of families and communities affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis? Can it really be A Campaign of Hope? Is there hope?

The answer is Yes! LWRs Kathryn Wolford reaches for Romans 8:24 in reply: Now hope that is seen is not hope. she says. The statistics of HIV/AIDS in Africa are daunting, but there are already examples where concerted action by churches, citizens groups and governments has turned the tide. With vision and the hope that come from faith, we can defeat despair and chart a future filled with health and life for the children of Africa....

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