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: What inspires your AIDS work?
Warren: About five years ago, I read a magazine article that talked about AIDS in Africa. And at that moment in time, I didn’t care anything about AIDS anywhere, let alone in Africa. I didn’t realize it was a problem in the United States. I was just ignorant and misinformed. But for some reason on that one day, I picked up this magazine article and it . . . it rocked my world. It’s as though I had a blindfold on and, you know, like cotton stuffed in my ears, and they were both just gone. The blindfold was gone, the cotton was out of my ears, and I saw for the first time that this . . . that the greatest humanitarian crisis of all times was occurring right under my nose and I hadn’t paid any attention. And I think what was so shocking to me that day when I read that article was that . . . That article talked about, you know, something like 35 million . . . there were 33 million people infected with HIV. And I sat there in my living room and I go, “Do I know anybody who’s HIV positive?” And the answer was no. And it said that there were 12 million children orphaned in Africa due to AIDS. And I thought, “Can I name one orphan?” And I thought, and I couldn’t. And I . . . It was so horrifying I just threw the magazine down. It was like, “How can there be something this big and I not know it – and I not know a single person?” That changed everything for me. It started me on this journey of . . . of trying to figure out how I could be a part of that.
Recorded on: 12/11/07