Visiting Stanley

This morning's post comes to us from CARE for AIDS supporter and board member, Kylie White. Kylie is one of the volunteers leading the charge in Families for Families, an initiative supporting CARE for AIDS. Learn more about Families for Families here


Just when we thought we were done with home visits for the day, a man came up to us calling to Samson, the spiritual counselor. He wanted us to come to his home.

Stanley was a tall lean man, 36 years old living in a small room. His wife and two children live in the up country where she works in a salon. He found work in security in Mombasa so they currently live apart, just visiting each other from time to time. Stanley learned he was HIV positive in 2004 before marrying his wife, when his factory employer tested all employees.

"I thought my world had come to an end, I panicked" he explained.

He said after his results in 2004 he tried to forget about the diagnosis so he wouldn't carry the weight of it every day. But after meeting his soon to be wife, he knew he needed to share before getting married. She was actually positive as well, so they got married in 2006 and had their first child. He started to share with us how a friend of his had introduced him to CARE for AIDS and how excited he was to have someone to talk to about his AIDS journey.

We asked him his hopes for the program, since he is only a few months in. He shared that he hopes to move forward in his walk with the Lord. He said he is glad he will learn how to take his medicine and nutrition properly and that he is thankful for the opportunity to share his struggles and receive spiritual counseling from Samson.

We told Stanley how proud we were of him, as a man, to take the stand to get help and be vulnerable in counseling. He expressed he still hasn't shared his status with friends and neighbors, but knows the CARE for AIDS program will give him the courage to live positively. I am prayerful that God will take a man like Stanley and encourage other Kenyan men to rise up and get help and healing, and that the best place to find that help will be in the local church, the light of the world. 


Interested in going on an Impact Trip to Kenya this year? Learn more about our trips here. 

Welcome to Tanzania!

We are thrilled to officially announce our expansion into Dar es Salaam, Tanzania! We are in the process of launching our first two centers in this new region and we couldn't be happier with the excitement and warm welcomes we have experienced. The first two communities we are working in are Mburahati and Vingunguti. Please keep these communities in your prayers! 

From Regional Coordinator Emmanuel: "Pray for us as we continue to search for the right church partnerships, recruit new staff members, and work to empower the church in Tanzania to care for those who are most vulnerable."

Hear from Emmanuel below: 


Meet our new Tanzanian staff members below: 

Seasons

Yesterday was the winter solstice- an official beginning to our winter season. While I generally pay very little attention to the passing of seasons, during advent I have found comfort in this shift into winter. While the winter solstice is generally known for being the shortest day of the year, it also necessarily is the longest night of the year. From now on, the nights will be slowly getting shorter and we will have more and more light in our days. What an incredible thing nature can teach us about the coming of Jesus during the advent season. 

As we celebrate Christmas and launch into a new year, we are reminded of the slow and progressive march through time from Advent to Easter. Starting now, at the birth of Christ, we can notice less dark in our world and more light. My challenge to you this season is to notice these little things and to reflect on the slow growth of your walk with the Lord. May you notice the incremental growth of light in your life as you walk with Christ through this season into the next. 

Blessings to you and your family this Christmas. We at CARE for AIDS are excited to take some time of rest and celebration and we look forward to connecting with you in 2017! 


“Advent Prayer
In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
Amen.” 
― Walter Brueggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, and in honor of this day, we have pulled a blog from the archives - a crash course in HIV/AIDS: 


Just 10 days ago, April 7th, was World Health Day. In honor of that, I wanted to offer our readers a crash course in HIV/AIDS 101. Every day in my conversations, I realize that there are still many gaps in people’s knowledge about AIDS. But, don’t mistake me for an expert. Just a couple months ago, a friend of CARE for AIDS and HIV researcher at Emory, Evonne Woodson, came in to help our team brush up on our HIV/AIDS knowledge, and we learned a ton. If you are aware of these 5 aspects of HIV, you will know more than 99% of the world.

1.     Life expectancy with HIV/AIDS

Although HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) cannot be cured, it can be managed extremely well. Even people in extreme poverty can live long lives with proper diet, hygiene, and adherence to medication. In most countries, the life expectancy of those with HIV is equal to or approaching that of the general population. One of our clients said this, “If someone asked me if I wanted cancer or HIV, I would choose HIV.” She understands that she will have a full life despite her HIV.

2.     The state of the global crisis

Most people have lost all sense of urgency about HIV because they believe it is under control. While there has been a lot of progress, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2014, there were approximately 2 million new infections globally. In that same year, about 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related causes. This means that the number of people living with HIV is growing by nearly a million a year. These are people that, at some time, will need care: medical, emotional, and spiritual. The costs of caring for these people are increasing but the funds available are decreasing. In Kenya, there are 100,000 new infections annually and 58,000 deaths. We need to continue working hard to see both of these numbers decrease.

3.     Difference between HIV and AIDS

HIV is a virus that causes a condition called AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). CD4 count is a common measure of how compromised your immune system is.  The test measures the amount of T-cells in your blood, which are a type of white blood cells that help fight off infection. A healthy person without HIV may have a CD4 count anywhere from 500 to 1500 cells/mm3.  If a person with HIV has a CD4 count lower than 200 cell/mm3, they are diagnosed with AIDS. HIV is typically in a latent state for about 6-10 years before the symptoms of AIDS begin. At that point, without treatment, someone will live for about 3 more years.

4.     Types, strains, and subtypes

There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Within HIV-1, there are four different strains of the virus: Group M, N, O, and P. HIV-1 Group M is the strain that is responsible for the global epidemic. But it doesn’t stop there. There are at least 9 main subtypes under Group M (A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K). Then, on top of that, there are many more subtypes that are combinations of the ones above. They are called Circulating Recombinant Forms. This is one of the many factors that make this virus so difficult to stop. Although many of the HIV treatments have proven effective against multiple subtypes, it is important to note that about half the world has subtype C but most of the U.S. has subtype B. Therefore, a disproportionate amount of funding and research has gone into addressing subtype B.

5.     Treatment as Prevention (TASP)

 One of the newest schools of thought on how to address this global issue is something called treatment as prevention. This basically means that the best way to prevent the spread of HIV is to begin treatment as early as possible. In doing so, it will suppress the virus to such a low level that it will be very unlikely that someone would be able to transmit it to someone else. The World Health Organization has adopted this “test and treat” philosophy and recommended that anyone testing positive for HIV should be treated immediately. Opponents of this theory contend that this early treatment will be too costly and could create more drug-resistant strains of HIV. In Kenya, HIV-positive individuals qualify to receive treatment when their CD4 count drops below 350 cells/mm3.  TASP has been used extremely effectively to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. Some studies have found a less than 1% chance of transmission when the mother is treated with antiretroviral medication during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

I hope you feel a little more educated about HIV. It is important to remember that the medical intervention is not the only aspect, and CARE for AIDS is working hard to provide a holistic response.

What did you learn about HIV that you didn’t already know?

Sources: avert.org and aids.gov

Generosity: Why Give?

This morning we are sharing an excerpt from our free Generosity E-book. This excerpt is an interview with contributing author, Steve Graves. Enjoy! 


Many of the parables related to money in the New Testament are pretty dramatic (you cannot serve both God and money, a camel has a better chance of going through the eye of a needle than a rich man going to heaven, sell all your possessions and give to the poor). How can we reconcile these seemingly extreme lessons about wealth and giving that Jesus teaches?

Here's what we know- no single verse or passage of scripture contains God’s thinking on one thing. There is no single text that is the proof text to show us how God feels about the rich or the poor. The scriptures are pretty descriptive on how people handle their wealth, though. If I have more than I need, which almost everyone in this country has, the scriptures are clear—help others. As a believer I have to hold in tension the growth of my own personal lifestyle with the command of helping others. 

That being said, there is one parable that I like to point to as a good example of how the Lord views resources and generosity— the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

What can we learn about how we relate to money and generosity in the parable of the talents?

There are four main takeaways that I love from this parable.

1.    All assets are distributed by the owner. As we see in verse 15 of this parable (Matthew 25:15), all of our assets, financial and non-financial, are owned by God. That doesn't mean that I didn't work hard for what I have, but it does mean that there is a divine allocation system that sits above our harried effort to accumulate more and more. We often don't like the assets we have been given, and we wish that we had other people’s lots. What we must realize is that, as the scripture says, “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.” Once we can find comfort in the fact that our resources are from God and that they are exactly what we need, we can find freedom.

2.    We are to steward the assets. In this parable we clearly see that the owner of the assets returns to see how the servants have stewarded the talents he gave them. Similarly, we know that everything we have is under God’s ownership and our stewardship. This should inform what we do with out time, gifts, and finances.

3.    Stewardship assumes leverage. When the owner of the assets returns in verse 19 (Matthew 25:19) we see that he those servants who doubled their assets were rewarded with more to steward. Through this we can see that when God talks about stewardship, there in an inherent expectation that we leverage what we are stewarding to the glory of God.

4.    Leverage requires more risk not less risk. This of course is a basic principle—if we expect to leverage and multiply that which we have been given, we must engage risk. Of course this is not a call to risk-it-all, Vegas style, but a call to responsibly step out in faith. If we take what we are given and bury it like the one servant in the parable, our faith is not engaged and we are not offered the opportunity to trust God and grow.

Those are amazing insights into this passage. One last question- what advice would you give young professionals or young couples who want generosity to be engrained in their families?

I would say three things:

·      Start early and take baby steps. My son is in college and we have been helping him understand giving since he was little – its already imbedded in his system and it has been incredible for my wife and I to see him living out generosity on his own as he becomes an adult.

·      Make sure you are activating faith. If you aren’t activating faith, you shouldn't be giving. Slugging your way through sacrificial taxing to God is not the picture scriptures paint of generosity. If this is the emotion that grown in you when you think about giving, keep your money and go pray more!

·      Find causes that resonate with you, but at the same time, don't be completely self-serving in your causes. We can use my son for example. He tithes to his church, and also gives to his friends who are in the mission field. He may feel more connection with his friends, and may want to give to them as his entire tithe, but he also knows that he is the man he is today because he has been under the stewardship of his church. When you give, certainly give to causes that make you feel good, but also consider the larger impact of your gifts and diversify those giving assets!


To download the full Generosity E-book, sign up for our newsletter on the CARE for AIDS website.