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Courageous Leadership Award: Engaging the AIDS Pandemic

World Vision and the Willow Creek Association honor a South African church for its role in addressing the crisis. (INTERACTIVE)

August 2007




The winner and runners-up of the 2007 Courageous Leadership Award stand on stage at Willow Creek Community Church. Pictured from left to right: Bishop Charles Blake, senior pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles; Dr. Ken Williams, senior pastor of Rockland Community Church in Golden, Colo.; and John Thomas, senior pastor of Fish Hoek Baptist Church in Cape Town, South Africa. They were joined by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. (far right). © 2007/World Vision
Fish Hoek Baptist Church of Cape Town, South Africa, was presented the Courageous Leadership Award on Aug. 10, a joint project of the Willow Creek Association and World Vision. The award was bestowed during the 2007 Leadership Summit — an annual training event for church leaders — at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.

The church was selected among nearly 100 entries, and will receive $120,000. This is double the original award of $60,000, which was matched in value by generous World Vision donors.

Aiming to Honor and Inspire

The goal of the Courageous Leadership Award is not only to honor those churches already fighting HIV and AIDS, but also to be a catalyst, encouraging other churches to follow suit.

The finalists and winner were selected based upon how they have strategically, intentionally, and creatively leveraged their God-given vision, gifts, and resources to help address the AIDS crisis.

"AIDS is not just another problem on the world's to-do list," said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. "This crisis calls for the Church to rise to the occasion and demonstrate God's immeasurable love and compassion — as Fish Hoek has demonstrated."

In addition to the winner, there were two runners-up, and 12 churches receiving honorable mentions. The two runners-up — West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, and Rockland Community Church in Golden, Colo. — will each receive $40,000. This amount was also doubled after being matched in value by generous donor contributions.

Fighting 'Compassion Fatigue'

Known as "the church that cares," Fish Hoek Baptist Church is a 315-member, predominantly white congregation helping people affected by AIDS in a community where one in five people is HIV-positive. The church demonstrates an uncompromising commitment to caring for all affected by AIDS; it continually "fights increasing HIV [and] AIDS compassion fatigue, or worse, indifference," said Fish Hoek Senior Pastor John Thomas.



Click above to watch "Dealers in Hope," a brief video documentary on Fish Hoek's AIDS ministry.

In 2000, the church established the Living Hope Community Centre, which serves those who are battling AIDS. Its activities include delivering hospice and home-based care, distributing food, testing for HIV, and providing counseling and spiritual nurture.

Seven years after its inception, the center's 147 paid staff dwarfs the 10 church staff. Moreover, the work of Living Hope has expanded to six other communities with their own facilities and hundreds of additional volunteers providing the same services.

Fish Hoek's initiative is the largest local church response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa, and likely the world. It has become the model for multitudes of local churches that now have their own AIDS initiatives. It has also been recognized by governments worldwide, including that of the U.S.

Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., speaks at the presentation of the Courageous Leadership Award. Noting the Church's responsibility in addressing the AIDS crisis, he called it an opportunity to
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., speaks at the presentation of the Courageous Leadership Award. Noting the Church's responsibility in addressing the global AIDS crisis, he called it an opportunity to "demonstrate God's immeasurable love and compassion." (c) 2007 /World Vision

"This church [Fish Hoek] is making its mark, applying resources at its disposal to the needs of the hurting, the diseased, and the poor," said Bill Hybels, senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church. "The award inspires leaders by honoring churches doing their part to help meet the holistic needs of those whose lives are devastated by AIDS."

'Wonderful Things Happen'


Fish Hoek funded its AIDS ministry for the first two years, between 1999 and 2001. Since then, individuals and organizations have contributed, and now, "the church continues to give toward this ministry in a variety of significant ways, such as volunteers, paying chaplains' salaries [and] monthly operational expenses, and other ways," said Thomas.

Accepting the award for his church's work on addressing the AIDS crisis, he perhaps captured the essence of how meaningful change is achieved against a global humanitarian crisis as severe as HIV and AIDS.

"When God's people do God's work in God's way, wonderful things happen," Thomas said.


Learn More


>> Read more about the winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions of the 2007 Courageous Leadership Award, and how they each made a difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
>> Get more information about AIDS and its devastating effects.

Two Ways You Can Help

>> Pray for churches around the world that care for those who suffer at the hands of HIV and AIDS. Pray that the Courageous Leadership Award would be an inspiration for these and other churches to seek new and innovative ways of tackling the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time.
>> Obtain resources through which you and your church can help change the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS.

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Learn More

Read more about the winner, runners-up, and honorable mentions of the 2007 Courageous Leadership Award, and how they each made a difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
- -
Get more information about AIDS and its devastating effects.

Two Ways You Can Help

Pray for churches around the world that care for those who suffer at the hands of HIV and AIDS. Pray that the Courageous Leadership Award would be an inspiration for these and other churches to seek new and innovative ways of tackling the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time.
- -

Obtain resources through which you and your church can help change the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS.

 





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