Kay Warren Finds Her 'Purpose Driven Life'

Kay Warren, wife of famous pastor, works to ensure an AIDS-free world for kids.

ByABC News via logo
January 8, 2009, 12:28 AM

Dec. 10, 2007 — -- As the wife of one of the country's most popular megachurch preachers, Kay Warren lived for more than three decades in the shadow of her famous husband, Rick Warren. She was content being a suburban mother, grandmother and pastor's wife until she stumbled across an article five years ago about the plight of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"I picked up a news magazine on my dining room table," Kay said on "Good Morning America" today. "It had an article on AIDS in Africa, and I didn't care. I thought it was a gay man's disease; therefore, I didn't have to care. I was ignorant and hardhearted."

But Warren said the sight of helpless children captured in the magazine's heart-wrenching pictures left her in tears and ignited a passion in her that made her want to help.

"The pictures were so horrible. I tried to reduce the horror by looking in the smallest way, but I couldn't escape it," Kay said. "Once I couldn't escape it, I was toast."

She wondered how a pandemic so large could not affect her life even in the smallest way. She determined it did have an influence and enlisted the aid of her husband to help her make the world an AIDS-free place.

"Five years ago, her life took a flip. It flipped mine, too," he said said on "Good Morning America" today. "When she first started talking about AIDS, I didn't get it. When it grabbed her heart, it grabbed mine."

Since Warren's revelation, the couple has traveled extensively through Africa and even issued its third conference on fighting AIDS in Africa earlier this year.

"We know she came late to the table on this and we regret it," said Rick, who is the best-selling author of "A Purpose Driven Life." "That was a mistake, but we're here to stay."

Warren's passion became so intense, she penned a book about it called "Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God." The book is her response on the pandemic. It also explains her faith and its role in helping AIDS patients.

Her spiritual awakening did more than just push her to help AIDS orphans; it also allowed her to deal with the feelings of jealousy she had toward her husband and his success. Now, she wasn't thinking about how to get out of Rick's shadow or worrying about how becoming an AIDS activist would help her image.

Warren says she simply was pleased to do God's work.

"That was the most effective way I could show my love to Jesus Christ was to be his hands and feet to this very, very broken world. Then I wasn't in it anymore for me," she said. "It wasn't like what acclaim can I receive? How can I move out of Rick's shadow? It ceased to have anything to do with Rick and anything to do with me. And it had to do with the fact there were so many people suffering and needed a voice."

She added that if people began to relate to one another as human beings, then they would be more likely to help.

"Just yesterday, we were on the streets of New York and there was a collection for the homeless group," she said. "A man was saying, 'Can you give?' A man walked by and said, 'I have too many problems of my own.' I thought, 'That's it. That's the microcosm. I have too many problems of my own to take on others.' If he would have looked into the eyes of that guy, there's no way he could have looked away."

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