The aids epidemic is so widespread in some countries that U.S. officials fear it could undermine economies, destabilize governments, threaten military establishments and create other regional problems. Here are a few indications of the magnitude of the problem—with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, where the epidemic is worse that anywhere else in the world:
A man once asked God why he had blessed Nigeria so abundantly, a popular joke goes. Not only did the country have vast human resources, rich agricultural land and diverse mineral deposits, but God had placed immense quantities of oil and natural gas within its borders.
Demography drives religious change. That bald comment is too obvious to be worth making, but it’s surprising how little attention demographic factors receive in most histories of religion, particularly of Christianity. That neglect means we miss a very large part of the story.
Researchers say they’ve found the most religious place on Earth. It’s between the southern border of the Sahara Desert and the tip of South Africa. Religion is “very important” to more than three-quarters of the population in 17 of 19 sub-Saharan nations, according to a new survey.
In the 19th century, European and North American missionaries spanned the world, bringing the light of the gospel into what they thought were the dark corners of heathendom. In many regions, though, the natives did not react as the newcomers expected.
When I was in southern Ethiopia in 1994, I watched truck after truck roll into a community with food aid. I asked a farmer if the harvest had been bad. He told me he had an abundant harvest of tomatoes and onions—cash crops. Because of all the food aid they were receiving, he could use his land to make some extra cash—and his family would eat wheat from America. That same year I could purchase corn oil at the local grocery store—in big metal containers labeled "A gift from the people of America." I resented having to pay for what was clearly intended to be food aid.