“They are all around us. The people who are suffering from stigma, denial, discrimination and their products of hatred , malice, evil, fear, poverty and inappropriate behaviors. We need resiliency so we can keep our head above water. Is there a plan to combat HIV and AIDS? YES, the plan is to love one another in the name of JESUS.”
That was my part of my preaching some months ago in one of our partner churches when they invited me to speak about what the local church should do in assisting the infected ones with HIV/AIDS within their congregation..I started by asking for a show of hands. Who knows someone…
- Who is HIV positive?
- Who has conducted or attended a funeral for someone who died of AIDS?
- Who is HIV positive in your congregation?
You can guess the answer! Number 1 and 2 were a 100% hands up, while the third question was 100% no hands up!
And I said, if you do know someone, you really don’t need me to tell you what situation is. If you don’t know anyone…shame on you! You are too isolated from what is happening in your community. That isolation could take one of two forms: You really don’t know very many people and those you know are very protected OR you don’t know enough about the people around to know what they are experiencing. In either case, you are not making a connection with people who are hurting and need your care and concern.
HIV/AIDS is not asking anything new of the church community, rather AIDS is confronting us with the necessity of becoming more fully the kind of people we have been called to be. We need to take up our role to:
- Provide Hope, Courage, and Healing.
- Work with God to confront the evils of the pandemic.
- Save the lives of many who are suffering and dying.
- Provide spiritual guidance and counsel.
- Bring salvation to humankind, and finally
- Share and use the knowledge that God has allowed through science to fight against AIDS.
Lastly, I questioned on how the church will respond to the Lord’s word in the face of civil disruption or to challenges faced by specific communities. There are stories that stretch the imagination of how much individuals suffer and sacrifice. However, there are success stories, in CARE for AIDS for example, where churches have woken up to the realization that admitting there is a problem is the first step. We are not going to be talking about being overwhelmed by HIV and AIDS. We are to be talking about the opportunities to represent our God, to minister to God’s children and our brothers and sisters who need our caring.
What do you think about Duncan’s message to the Kenyan church? What issues are facing OUR churches that we should be addressing as the body of believers? How are we being too passive or ignoring the reality here in America?