Present Grace

Today’s post comes to us from CARE for AIDS intern, Anna Wilke.

A few weeks ago we started a new sermon series at Auburn Community Church, the church I attend, called “Reframing Jesus” in which we are trying work past what we might think or have been told is true about Jesus. Instead we want to know Jesus for who He really is, who the Bible says He is.  Learning the truth about Jesus is essential because the way we, personally, see Jesus will always directly impact the way we relate to Him. A.W. Tozer says it this way, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” If we believe this is true, we have to be careful to only base our personal view of Jesus on the truth we find about Him in the Bible and throw out any assumptions and beliefs we have about Him that do not align with those truths.

The first truth about Jesus that our lead pastor, Miles Fidell, talked about is His grace that empowers us. If we are in Christ, we receive three different types of grace: past grace, present grace, and future grace. Past grace is the forgiveness we received for all our sins when Christ died on the cross for us; it means we no longer have to be separated from God. Future grace is the promise of Heaven and an eternal life spent with our Heavenly Father. Both past grace and future grace are incredible gifts that we absolutely do no deserve. However, we tend to just focus on past grace and future grace and forget about the wonderful, present grace of God. Present grace is the life Jesus offers us in the here and now; one of His greatest desires for us is that we would actually live, not just exist. John 10:10 says that He came to give us an abundant life. Jesus is not only forgiveness for our past and the hope for our future, He is life now!

Like me, you might be wondering how we are supposed to continually abide in the abundant life Jesus has given us, Miles says this, “The present grace of God comes from being in the presence of God.” Coming back into our Father’s presence can be daunting if you have been running from Him, but receiving grace means that when you come back to God, it’s like you never left. Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit is constantly interceding on our behalf, even when we are running. Grace tells us that we can turn around whenever we want to, we just have to be willing. Our Father desires for us to spend time in His presence, He sent Jesus to end our separation from Him, so we can come into His presence confident in the fact that He is not burdened by us. The presence of God can be the place in our lives where we feel most comfortable and confident because we know we are always wanted in the presence of God.

If you want to listen to Miles’s full sermon “Reframing Jesus: Grace in the Presence,” and I highly recommend it, here is the link:


Meet Melanie

This morning’s post is from another new US team member, Melanie Passons.


One day last year, I had a conversation with my friend, Justin Miller, about the future ... Where was God leading me next and what was He placing on my heart? This conversation prompted new ideas and goals, and a year later I now look back on God’s providence with overwhelming gratitude as I begin my role at CARE for AIDS in Nashville, TN. I’m so grateful that God brought me here and humbled to be a part of this beautiful journey.

Let’s back up about three decades! I was born and raised in Memphis, TN, an eclectic city (and BBQ capital of the world) that taught me the importance of loving people well. My childhood can be summed up in one word: happy! My wonderful family is my rock that kept me smiling and laughing through every ballet recital, talent show, church production, and more.

I attended the University of Tennessee where I studied political science, history, and college football (Go VOLS!). After graduation, I completed several political internships while studying and applying to graduate school. The following two years at The George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service were a deep dive into geopolitics and the ways in which various cultures communicate and cooperate with one another. I was constantly reminded that in looking at the big picture we must remember that people matter and our words and actions play a defining role in how the lives of others are shaped and changed.

After receiving my Master of International Affairs in 2014, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I served as Program Coordinator at the Rumsfeld Foundation, a terrific organization that encourages leadership, public service and free political and economic systems at home and abroad. This unique experience not only provided many occasions to learn and grow, but also solidified my passion for building relationships, communicating a mission, sharing stories, and creating change.

Throughout my academic studies and work experience, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the globe. From Wales to Israel, Tajikistan to China, these adventures abroad have opened my eyes and my heart to the extraordinary world around me. I have found that where there is hurt, there is also joy; where there is violence, there is also peace; where there is sickness, there is also healing.

Likewise, the profound impact that CARE for AIDS has had on those living with HIV/AIDS in East Africa can be seen in the joy, peace, and healing that many of our program graduates now experience every day. Lives are being transformed, both physically and spiritually, and to play even a small role in this work is humbling. I can’t wait to meet our dedicated staff in Africa as well as our courageous clients who are taking important steps toward living a full and healthy life.

There is something so special behind the doors of CARE for AIDS. I am thankful that God opened those doors to me and I am excited to be a part of what is to come. I hope you will join us as we empower people to live a life beyond AIDS.


Meet Kara

This morning’s post is from the newest member of the US CARE for AIDS team, Kara Stanley. Kara joined the team as our Impact Trip Coordinator the first week of January- help us welcome her to the family!

First off, let me say how thankful I am to be on the CARE for AIDS team! The journey that has brought me here took me all over the world, literally, and it is an honor to have landed here.

I am from sweet home Alabama, born and raised. Football fans, don’t hold it against me! My family bounced all over the state and eventually settled in south Alabama. I have three sisters- I know, my poor dad. We had a lively household, to say the least. After high school, I attended Auburn University where I took part in a research study facilitated by the United Nations World Food Programme. We analyzed impoverished communities all over the world, and through this, my love of other cultures and longing to help those in need developed. After graduating from college, I worked for a church in Birmingham, AL in their events department. During this time my desire to serve the nations grew and grew and eventually led to almost 3 years on the mission field, mainly in the Middle East working with refugees and displaced peoples. My heart has always been drawn toward the marginalized, the overlooked, and the misunderstood, and serving in that region was, for lack of a better word, incredible. Serving in the Middle East, especially as an American woman, was such a joy- I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.

I have been extremely blessed to travel all over the world and serve with various people groups. I have seen God move and draw His children to Himself in the most creative and spectacular ways, and inviting others into that process is such a thrill! I am so excited to now do this through CARE for AIDS. The methodology of CFA is impacting and changing communities like I have never seen before, and the vision is so close to the heart of God! What an honor it is to play a part. I am so excited to be joining the CARE for AIDS family, and I cannot wait to get started and get to know you all!


Strength from Weakness

Today’s article is from CARE for AIDS Intern, Anna Wilke.

Recently I had an assignment in one of my classes that required me to think and write about the stereotypical interview question, “describe your strengths and your weaknesses.” I don’t know about you, but I dread this question because it requires me to look at the parts of myself I wish I could change. As a very type A person, one of my biggest weaknesses is that I resist change and am uncomfortable with the unknown and what I can’t plan. What I’ve been learning recently though is that, as cliché as it sounds, God’s strength can be shown even more through our weaknesses. When we step into our weaknesses God can make His power, sovereignty, and love known even more.

One of the most tangible ways I have seen God made known in weakness and in the unknown is the lives of the clients that CARE for AIDS serves. These men and women are among the most marginalized people in the world because of their HIV diagnosis. They, more than most, do not know what the future will hold for them which can be terrifying. Time and time again, despite the fear and unknown that come with an HIV diagnosis, I have seen our clients own their physical, emotional, economic, and spiritual weaknesses and it allows for amazing transformations. Accepting their weaknesses allows them beautifully embrace the good change the CARE for AIDS program brings. It is a beautiful and tangible metaphor for the way God can work in our own weaknesses and it inspires me, personally, to be vulnerable in my weakness.

A few weeks ago I heard my pastor say “True strength is the presence of weakness and the acknowledgement of God.” Our weaknesses can be used to glorify our Heavenly Father because it is so obvious we can not do it on our own. I have started to look at my weaknesses as a way to show God’s strength and a way to remind myself to continuously rely on Him. This truth has given me so much peace because it takes my weaknesses out of my own hands. I believe we can all draw encouragement from Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians 12 to “boast all the more gladly” in our weakness, so our Father’s strength can be made known.

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Open Eyes

“This program has opened my eyes in more ways than one.”

– Millicent, graduate from Kiambiu center

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Millicent is a single mother of two boys. Her husband died when the children were still very young and she’s been their sole provider ever since. Millicent’s husband died of complications from Tuberculosis and less than a year after he passed, she began getting sick also. At the hospital, Millicent tested positive for HIV, which led her to assume that her husband had been positive as well.

In 2003, Millicent was involved in a car accident that caused trauma to her head. She went to the hospital for treatment, but didn’t have the money to pay for the necessary tests and prescriptions. At the time, she was working in Naivasha picking flowers for a flower farm, but she started suffering from severe headaches.

Eventually, she had to quit her job and move back to Homa Bay in western Kenya. While in Home Bay, Millicent struggled to find ways to make money to send her kids to school. She decided to move again, this time to Nairobi, to work in a new job as a house manager. She was open with the family she worked for about being HIV-positive. Unfortunately, whenever the children who lived in this home got any type of sickness, the parents would blame Millicent and her HIV status for their illness. She was let go after 6 months.

Millicent started getting desperate. She no longer had a salary to pay school fees or rent, so she moved in with her cousin’s family and began doing whatever daily work she could find. Her eyes and head were bothering her more and more; often leaving her completely debilitated. Her cousin noticed the severity of Millicent’s pain and that she often wasn’t able to sleep, so she took Millicent to the hospital for a consultation. The doctor affirmed that her injury from years ago was likely the culprit of the pain she was experiencing, but he also prescribed glasses for her, noting that her poor vision was also contributing to her headaches. Unfortunately, Millicent didn’t have the money to pay for the glasses.

Not long after this, Millicent decided to start a small business selling fruits and vegetables in a stand by the roadside. She slowly began making enough to support herself again and was able to rent a home of her own. While she was working at her stand one morning, she met Anne and Jacob, the CARE for AIDS counselors at Kiambiu center. After hearing about what they do, she confided in them that she was HIV-positive and she was invited to join the CARE for AIDS program.

Grateful for all she was learning and the counseling she was receiving from Jacob and Anne, Millicent kept quiet about her pain and eye problems. She did not want to be a burden to the people who were already helping her. Over time, however, Jacob and Anne caught on to Millicent’s terrible headaches and poor eye sight. They approached her about it and she decided to show them the papers from her hospital visit from almost a year ago. After reading the doctor’s notes, Jacob and Anne were able to send Millicent back to the doctor for another consultation. They used the medical endowment fund to purchase prescription glasses for Millicent.

Her improvement was immediate. Millicent says the CARE for AIDS program has opened her eyes in more ways than one. She learned not to be ashamed or embarrassed of her medical issues and that there are people willing to help you find the care you need. She just graduated from the program in Kiambiu and is very grateful for everything she has learned.

A total of $48 was spent on Millicent’s care. When you give to CARE for AIDS you can help support simple medical interventions like this! Learn more about how you can support our work here.