Thank you! How could a blessed person not say “Thank You”? We do it all the time. In Luke 17 Jesus tells the story of ten lepers who are all healed by him, but only one returns to give thanks. I certainly don’t want to be that way, do you?
Many of you have been asking me about the “Thank You” note from Laura Bush that was on Facebook. Since I don’t get cards like that every day, I guess it does deserve an explanation. During this last year, I have had the opportunity to partner with Collinson Media and speak at their big events telling about the crisis in the world related to poverty, orphans, and AIDS. In response participants have helped CRF. What has been so interesting to me is that this privilege has put me on the same program with Seth Meyers, Steve Forbes, Steve Harvey, Biz Stone and many other noteworthy speakers. And yes, it put me on the program with Laura Bush.
At first, I was going to follow the First Lady, but they switched the program at the last minute where I would precede her. As I was walking up to speak, I looked at Laura Bush sitting across from Barbie and thought about PEPFAR. I have always wanted to thank the Bush family for their work with perhaps the greatest government program ever done.
If you don’t know, PEPFAR is the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. President Bush committed $15 billion over a five-year period to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. This effort helped especially with the provision of antiretroviral treatment to 2 million HIV-affected people (to stop their HIV from developing into AIDS), to prevent 7 million new infections, and to support care for 10 million others infected. Africans received the most help with this. Literally, millions of African lives have been saved because of this legislation.
I don’t know of any legislation in history that has saved more lives. I can’t remember any act that has saved more physical lives. And most people don’t know that the President and Laura did this massive effort to save lives. When I first started going into the Sub-Saharan regions of the AIDS pandemic, I had little hope. It was hard to think that many of these Africans would ever live through the pandemic. But I think we have turned the corner. There is still not a cure, but with the antiretroviral treatment, millions are still alive who wouldn’t be otherwise. And it couldn’t have happened without PEPFAR.
Most people just don’t know about PEPFAR. Matt Damon, who recently spoke about PEPFAR, said it was so good that he was going to kiss George W. Bush on the lips if he ever met him for doing it. It was so good that President Obama has praised it and continued it. Still most people don’t know that it happened.
I always felt like I should thank them for it. But how do you get a message to the President? As I looked at Laura Bush, I realized that it was my opportunity. I told the thousands of people who were there about this great gift of compassion. As I expected, very few of them knew about it. And I thanked the First Lady and the President for saving these lives. It means a lot to me because I not only know about PEPFAR , but I also know the names and faces of so many of those children who have been saved by it.
When I started talking about it, I could tell that she was thankful that I was telling about it. The Bush family has received so much criticism. It is such a shame that they are rarely thanked for perhaps the greatest legislation in history. What a privilege—I got to thank her.
When the First Lady got up to talk, she thanked me and then she thanked Christian Relief Fund telling of our work with HIV/AIDS. I was humbled. I was honored. It’s really good to be thanked.
But I think Mrs. Bush learned the lesson of Luke 17 deeply. When I got home from my trip to Columbus, there was also this thank you note from her and additional gratitude from the President.
Wow! I am honored. I am thankful. It is framed.