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AIDS ravaging Africa, making missions urgent

HARARE, Zimbabwe (BP)–The AIDS epidemic sweeping southern Africa has intensified the sense of urgency with which missionaries work.
The rate at which people are dying without hearing the gospel — and the heartbreak those deaths cause missionaries — have led one Southern Baptist worker to issue an urgent call for prayer.
Nearly two-thirds of the estimated 33.4 million people infected with AIDS worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization. The region accounted for 70 percent of 1998’s 5.8 million new infections.
“Southern Africa is plagued by AIDS,” said International Mission Board missionary D. Ray Davis. “Urgency is the climate in which our missionaries work.”
A report in “The Herald” of Harare, Zimbabwe, noted about 240 people die of AIDS-related diseases every day in that country. The paper estimated 80,000 Zimbabweans will die from AIDS by year’s end.
“This crisis extends across our region of southern Africa and calls for urgent prayer support,” Davis said. “The situation is overwhelming for missionaries. It is heartbreaking.
“Please give yourselves to prayer that people will be called out of death and into life eternal.”