Deborah Dortzbach and W. Meredith Long
IVP Books, 157 pages, $13.00

THE SKEPTIC'S GUIDE To the Global AIDS Crisis (Revised Edition)
Dale Hanson Bourke
Authentic, 103 pages, $9.99

Correct me if I am wrong. But there has never been a war like the one against HIV/AIDS. It is a war with a universally clear enemy—the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV poses a lethal threat to individuals, marriages, children, families, nation-states, religions, and civilizations. It has become a matter of "global security."

So let me ask the stupid question: Why are we losing to a microbe? Look at the numbers. Each year for the 26 years since the initial HIV outbreak, more people have died and more new infections have been recorded. How more starkly could we objectify our inability to stop the spread of this disease that infects 14,000 additional people each day worldwide?

The question of why we are losing has many complexities but one simple reply: We are not doing what we must do to stop new infections, care for people who have HIV/AIDS, and provide a safe haven for their survivors. This realization lies at the heart of two excellent new resources for Christians in the war against HIV.

In The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do, authors Deborah Dortzbach and W. Meredith Long, both associated with the evangelical agency World Relief, bring decades of experience and practical insight to a book-length resource especially useful to North Americans seeking to become involved. Skip the next international AIDS conference and read this book instead.

In every wise book, there is a sentence that took a lifetime of front-line expertise to develop. In this book, that sentence is: "The church no longer has any choice about whether to respond; we can only decide how we will respond."

Sadly, an honest history of evangelical activism against HIV/AIDS must include a chapter about how we responded at first with skeptical and judgmental attitudes. That's a premise behind The Skeptic's Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis.

Author Dale Hanson Bourke is a one-woman-army of journalism, passion-driven activism, and street-smart philanthropy. In my office, I have bookshelves overflowing with resources on HIV/AIDS. But this book crams more quality information into a user-friendly, question-and-answer format than almost any other resource on the market.

The Skeptic's Guide is distinctive in many respects. Importantly, the author provides balance, aiming to motivate greater understanding. She says, "I have tried hard to represent controversies so that readers can not only decide what they believe, but also understand how those who believe differently have reached their conclusions." That's a great mission to undertake at a time when overheated rhetoric on HIV/AIDS seems to be everwhere.

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Together, these books paint a story on the global canvas of 21st-century Christian mission. Which global entity has the imagination, resources, strategy, logistics, supply chains, hospitals, labs, clinics, volunteers, scholars, and practitioners to fuel this fight decade upon decade, generation after generation? The church of Jesus Christ. But only if this global church is properly awakened and aware of its potential to fulfill the Second Great Commandment to love its neighbor in concert with the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

The HIV pandemic is like a tornado that sweeps across the landscape, sparing one household while devastating the home next door.

Many lives will hang in the balance for years to come. By 2050, perhaps 70 million people will be living with HIV. That bleak prospect brings to mind the question of John Page, the Revolutionary War patriot: "Do you not think an angel rides this whirlwind and directs this storm?" Our Bible bears witness that God's greater purpose becomes clearer to us in times of famine, pestilence, and war. Dortzbach, Long, and Bourke hold great hope that Christians will become angels of sanctuary for those who suffer.

Timothy C. Morgan is CT's deputy managing editor.

Related Elsewhere:

The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do and The Skeptic's Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis are available from and other retailers.

Christianity Today interviews with Deborah Dortzbach include a Q&A and "'Sexual Revolution,' AIDS, and the African Church."

Dortzbach wrote "Speaking with Action Against AIDS" for Christianity Today.

The Billy Graham Archives has a section on the papers of Debbie Dortzbach, including biographical information, and transcripts of extensive interviews.

Dortzbach and W. Meredith Long work at World Relief, which has posted an article on the spread of HIV in Cambodia.

Christianity Today reviewed Dale Hanson Bourke's most recent book, Second Calling.

She was consulted for the 50th anniversary article on "What's Next: International Justice" and wrote "Finally, Some Overdue Good News in the Battle Against AIDS."

MomSense interviewed her about AIDS and The Skeptic's Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis.

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Christianity Today's recent coverage of AIDS/HIV includes:

Banking on Breast Milk | One ministry's unusual approach to saving AIDS orphans in Africa. (December 15, 2006)
Long-Distance AIDS Ministry | How one modest-sized church in North Carolina is making a big difference in the heart of Africa. (November 27, 2006)
Q&A: Richard Stearns | The president of World Vision U.S. on the Global Fund, free condoms, and church-based relief and development work. (October 17, 2006)
Prevention Wars | Christian activists question Global Fund's AIDS strategies. (August 1, 2006)
The AIDS Team | Principled collaboration by churches is urgently needed to help defeat HIV.A Christianity Today editorial. | (August 1, 2006)
Prevention Wars | Christian activists question Global Fund's AIDS strategies. (August 1, 2006)

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