News and Events
Author, AIDS Activist Kay Warren Shares Story of Dangerous Surrender With Students
Seaver College students flocked to Firestone Fieldhouse Wednesday, Jan. 7, for the first convocation of 2009. As part of the weekly morning series to enrich Christian faith and values among Pepperdine students, the inaugural convocation featured author and AIDS activist Kay Warren, who told her tale of "dangerous surrender," also the title of her recently published book.
A Southern California resident and wife of the pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, Warren has become a passionate leader in the fight against AIDS. As she stood before an auditorium full of attentive Pepperdine students, she admitted that seven years ago, she was ignorant about the disease and thought that she could "catch" it from casual interaction. "I was reading a magazine article about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and it just grabbed me," she shared. "Forty million infected; 12 million of them children. I realized that there is a whole other world outside 'the Kingdom of Kay.'"
After starting a movement at her church to combat the disease, Warren began working within AIDS-ravaged Africa, educating the populace on safe-sex practices, teaching men and boys to respect women, spreading the word about the benefits of saving sex for marriage, and providing love and support within the local church by exchanging dirty needles for clean ones and by offering treatment for those who have contracted the disease.
Warren's message to Pepperdine students was to live a life fully surrendered to God. "What disturbs you?" she asked the audience. "The idea of 143 million orphans? The sex trade? Poverty? Something needs to disturb you so profoundly that you are willing to give your life to it if He asks for it."
Warren is a two-time cancer survivor, and knows firsthand how a life-threatening diagnosis can alter one's daily life. In addition to her work in Africa, she has volunteered in her own community; at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Kolkata, India; at the leper colony and AIDS hospice in Manila, Philippines; and with World Vision and International Justice Mission in Thailand and Cambodia.
Warren published her book Dangerous Surrender in 2007, tracing her transformation from housewife to international HIV/AIDS advocate. "I'm gloriously ruined," Warren told the crowd. "I used to be a mother, a pastor's wife, and most people considered me a nice person, but that's just not enough for me anymore," she said.
Seaver College senior Mike Hornbuckle said he took a lot away from Warren's lecture. "She has a good message and obviously she's someone who has gone through a lot," he said. "It's easy to think 'I'm happy with the way things are right now,' but at the same time, there's always more to do."
University Chaplain Dave Lemley was more impressed by what Warren did not talk about: her own struggles. "Her story is really about her heart being turned toward others who are suffering. Because of her commitment to God, she has chosen to make a difference in some of the places where the task is the most overwhelming."
Each semester, all undergraduates are required to attend 14 programs in the Convocation Series, which are activities aimed at building Christian faith, affirming Christian values, or addressing ethical and moral issues within a Christian worldview posed by current events. In addition to the Wednesday morning chapels at Firestone Fieldhouse, other programs include student-led worship services, small group Bible studies, and individual spiritual mentoring sessions with faculty or staff sponsors. Learn more about spiritual life at Pepperdine.