Kay Warren
Executive Director, HIV/AIDS Initiative, Saddleback Church

How do you reconcile tolerance and evangelizing?

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If you had the cure for cancer, you'd tell people.

Kay Warren

Kay Warren is an evangelical leader, author, AIDS activist, and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with her husband, Rick, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today it has 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.

In 2002, Warren became "seriously disturbed" by the scope of the AIDS epidemic; she has since set up an AIDS ministry at Saddleback and spoken out about the disease around the world. Warren is the co-founder and co-director (with her husband) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

Warren has spoken to the United Nations Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. In 2006, Warren was among eight women honored for their humanitarian efforts at the CNN Inspire Summit. Warren is the author of Foundations Participant's Guide and Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God.


Question: How do you reconcile tolerance and evangelizing

Warren: I’m a breast cancer survivor. I’ve had breast cancer and melanoma. If I felt like that . . . And let’s just say I heard that you or someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer, and I felt like that I had something that was going to cure your cancer. I would be a terrible human being if I didn’t at least offer it to you. Now you might decide, “No thank you. That sounds like a really radical thing. I think that’s a quack. I’m not really interested in it.” That wouldn’t change my wanting to be with you and to have a friendship and a relationship with you even though you might decide you didn’t like what I was offering. So I think the same thing applies as in . . . in Christian faith, or evangelizing as you said. I happen to believe that I have . . . not because it’s mine, but because God in His word says, “I want a relationship with every human being.” I know that. And so I would be a terrible human being if I didn’t offer that to you – to at least just say, “Here’s what I found. Here’s the relationship I have. I’d like to introduce you to my friend God. I’ve got my little card here: Kay Warren, friend of God. I’d like to introduce you.” And if you said, “Thank you very much. I appreciate that, but I’m really not interested.” Then I would say, “Okay. But let’s be friends. Hey, can we go to dinner tonight?” You know or, “Would you pick up my mail for me while I’m gone this week on vacation?” It should not affect the level of relationship. But neither should I not tell you what I think is the most important news in the whole world.

Recorded on: 12/11/07