If you believe HIV/AIDS is spread across America primarily by homosexuals, you are correct. If you believe homosexuality is a sin, you are correct. If you are a homophobic Baptist and have therefore turned your back on the homosexual community and anyone with HIV/AIDS, then you are sinning as well. Caring for the sick includes people with HIV/AIDS. Yes, even if they are homosexuals.

When was the last time you read Matthew 25:43? “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” Notice there was no asterisk in the verse excluding those who are sick with HIV/AIDS.

Sadly enough, there are few, if any, Oklahoma Baptist churches with ministries to people with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS has become the Leprosy of the 21st Century.

“Hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Mark 2:17. Who among us will rise up and minister to this desperately hurting unreached people group?

It appears we have soothed our consciences by determining homosexuals and others with HIV/AIDS are getting what they deserve. Getting what they deserve? Has it come to this? If we are going to base our compassion and concern for the lost and sick on what they deserve, then they will never receive it. Are we then willing to accept what we deserve? No one wants what they deserve.

Yes, the book of Romans makes it very clear that the wages of sin is death. But have we forgotten that none of us deserves God’s mercy and grace? Homosexuals are not the only sinners among us. We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.

Praise the Lord not all Southern Baptists have walked away from those with HIV/AIDS. Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Community Church Pastor Rick Warren, is executive director of Saddleback Church’s HIV/AIDS Initiative.

Saddleback, located in Lake Forest, Calif., has developed the acrostic C.H.U.R.C.H. as the outline for its strategy to care for those with HIV/AIDS. The elements include: Care for and support the sick. Handle testing and counseling. Unleash a volunteer labor force. Remove the stigma. Champion healthy behavior. Help with nutrition and medication. Warren is quick to point out that people desperately need Jesus and that ministry to those with HIV/AIDS starts with the Bible.

Not every church in Oklahoma has the ability to launch a ministry the size of Saddleback Church, but every Oklahoma Baptist church has the ability to care and minister to the lost and sick, including those with HIV/AIDS.

The real question is whether or not we care enough to reach out to modern day lepers. Is there really any question as to what Jesus would have us do? A good start would be to learn more about Saddleback’s ministry at www.purposedriven.com/hiv or pick up a copy of Chad Thompson’s book, Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would.