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 will this age be remembered?
Warren: Sadly we’ve . . . we’ve . . . we’ve made a pretty big mess of things in the last 100 years. I mean the progress . . . My mother is 80 . . . almost 84. And for her to chronicle her life, you know, of where . . . what has happened in her lifetime from the . . . the AIDS to living like, you know cell phones, and computers, and airplane travel, and all the things that were not present when she was a child; just to list those accomplishments – the diseases that have been eradicated; the problems that have been fixed – those are gigantic. But sadly it’s also the hundred years in which there were more people killed in war, and poverty, and hunger I think than ever before. And that part’s sad. But I guess the part that I think is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. So that’s where my optimism is. The pessimism is, oh, there’s been so much. And there’s so much in the last five years that I’ve seen. I really had never seen the . . . the underbelly of humanity in the way I have in the last five years. I’ve seen raw evil. I’ve been to Cambodia. I’ve been to Rwanda. I have seen little girls . . . I’ve been on a door just on the other side, three feet away from me of little girls held behind padlocked doors, trafficked in the sex trade. I have seen people dying under trees homeless because they’ve been pushed aside because they were HIV-positive. I have seen a lot of evil in the last five years, and I think it’s really naïve to think that it’s all gonna get better . . . just magically somehow it’s gonna get better. It’s gonna take effort from every single person. It’s gonna take a commitment to look outside of ourselves. It’s gonna take dangerous surrender. It’s a giving of our lives to those beyond ourselves. It’s a willingness to not just be ruined by the American dream of success. I say I’m a seriously disturbed and gloriously ruined woman. I am seriously disturbed enough to the point about what’s going on in this world that I’m not content another minute to leave it that way. But I’m also ruined for the American dream as it is. I’m . . . The American dream by itself will ruin you. That pursuit of self and success, it will ruin you. Well totally surrendering your life to God will ruin you, but it will gloriously ruin you. And for that I’m grateful, and I have no intent to be anything other than that.
Recorded on: 12/11/07