Follow our weekly news by email

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What do AIDS in Africa and Debt in America have in common?


There has been a delay of several weeks in me writing this blog as I was unsure of backlash that may likely ensue.  But I am back from weeks of travel and ready to write, so here it goes.


I recently had a BIG "ah-ha". 

I spend a lot of time answering questions about the HIV/AIDS and orphan situation in sub-Saharan Africa. They are usually asked by well-meaning, un-informed people.  They go something like: “Why don’t they teach birth-control so there aren’t so many children?”. “Why don’t they just stop having sex so that AIDS stops being transmitted?”.  “Why don’t they use condoms?”. “Don’t they know that if they don’t stop having sex that they will all die?”.  “Why aren’t they educating people why the AIDS pandemic must be reversed?”.

HIV/AIDS is killing the Kingdom of Swaziland (and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa).  And a question that maybe should be asked is why Swazi’s don’t want to talk about it with their families and neighbors?  And why it is politically difficult to talk about it and address it properly at the highest levels of government?  The answer is simple.  To have truthful and effective conversations about HIV/AIDS is awkward and ugly and is brings feelings of shame and embarrassment for those infected with the disease as well as for the government who has to deal with the judgment from and repercussions of the international community. No one wants to have their dirty laundry aired in public view.

Awareness and behavior have to change at an individual level, each person making his/her own choice to stop behavior that is killing the family and the nation while starting to talking about it openly and honestly.  It is repentance (regret for past action and turning away from it). 

Let’s flip it around now.

I don’t spend a lot of time answering questions about the DEBT CRISIS in America.  There are no well-meaning un-informed people in Swaziland who ask me questions like: “Why don’t they teach responsible spending to their children in America?”.  “Why don’t they just stop buying things that aren’t an absolute necessity, like food and water?”.  “Why don’t they just cut up their credit cards and put away their check books?”.  “Don’t they know that if they don’t stop spending and creating more debt that the country will die?”. “Why aren’t they being educating people why the debt crisis must be reversed?”

Consumer and government debt is killing the United States of America (and many other countries around the world). And a question that maybe should be asked is why Americans don’t want to talk about it with their families and neighbors? And why it is politically difficult to talk about it and address it properly at the highest levels of government? To have truthful and effective conversations about debt and spending is awkward, and ugly and is brings feelings of shame and embarrassment for those who lose their home/beach house/boat/car in foreclosure or who are forced to declare bankruptcy as well as for the government has to deal with the judgment from and repercussions of the international community. No one wants to have their dirty laundry aired in public view.

Awareness and behavior have to change at an individual level, each person making his/her own choice to stop behavior that is killing the family and the nation and start talking about it openly and honestly. It is repentance (regret for past action and turning away from it). 

Ironic?

Sin is sin. Whether it is sexual sin or greed, pride or gluttony or the ones hidden in our hearts that will never be revealed in public.  It’s awkward, ugly, shameful, embarrassing and has repercussions of killing our families and our nations.  Let us stop thinking that our sin is somehow different, cleaner.  That is the ridiculous religion of the Pharisees in today’s church.

Joel 1 (Message Bible translation)

Get in Touch with Reality—and Weep!
1-3 God's Message to Joel son of Pethuel: Attention, elder statesmen! Listen closely, everyone, whoever and wherever you are! Have you ever heard of anything like this? Has anything like this ever happened before—ever?  Make sure you tell your children, and your children tell their children, and their children their children.  Don't let this message die out.
4What the chewing locust left, the gobbling locust ate; What the gobbling locust left, the munching locust ate; What the munching locust left, the chomping locust ate.
5-7Sober up, you drunks! Get in touch with reality—and weep! Your supply of booze is cut off. You're on the wagon, like it or not.  My country's being invaded by an army invincible, past numbering, teeth like those of a lion, fangs like those of a tiger. It has ruined my vineyards, stripped my orchards, and clear-cut the country. The landscape's a moonscape.
8-10Weep like a young virgin dressed in black, mourning the loss of her fiancĂ©.  Without grain and grapes, worship has been brought to a standstill in the Sanctuary of God.  The priests are at a loss.  God's ministers don't know what to do.  The fields are sterile. The very ground grieves.  The wheat fields are lifeless, vineyards dried up, olive oil gone.
11-12Dirt farmers, despair!  Grape growers, wring your hands!  Lament the loss of wheat and barley. All crops have failed. Vineyards dried up, fig trees withered, Pomegranates, date palms, and apple trees— deadwood everywhere! And joy is dried up and withered in the hearts of the people.

Hosea 6:1  

"Come on, let's go back to God. He hurt us, but he'll heal us.  He hit us hard, but he'll put us right again.  In a couple of days we'll feel better. By the third day he'll have made us brand-new, alive and on our feet, fit to face him.”

Lord, please shine light on darkness.  Please call your people to repentance and have us listen, again.