Unfold

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“Unfold”
a poem by CARE for AIDS Development Engagement Manager Melanie Passons

What was it like?

Where did you go?

What did you see?

What’s there to know?

Just a few of the questions upon a return from a trip that would cause any wrecked heart to burn.

Burn for the clients, courageous and strong, whose lives now are joyous, now healthy and long.

Burn for the children who proudly stand by watching to learn, to exemplify.

Burn for the churches that open their doors to those who are hurting. Those desperate for more.

Burn to be part of what God has in store for those who were outcast, now steeped in vigor.

There isn’t a day, now, that ever goes by without the heart yearning to sing its reply

To Share how God’s moving in ways so untold

To invite them to join,

Watch His glory unfold.

Steady in the Storm

Today’s post comes from CARE for AIDS Impact Trip Coordinator Kara Stanley, who recently returned from her first Impact Trip experience in Nairobi.


If you get far enough away, anything can feel small. Get far enough away from Everest and it looks like a hill. Get far enough away from the ground and cars begin to look like ants. Even the sun can seem like a tiny star if you get really, really far from it.

Get far enough away from Kenya and HIV feels small. It feels like it can’t touch you - like an other-worldly disease. If you get far enough away from something, it seems to disappear all together.  From the relative comforts of our lives in the States, we can find ourselves asking: “HIV? Is that still a thing?” And the answer is that it never actually goes away. To us it can seem small and quiet, but it’s still here. For me, HIV/AIDS was just a whisper until I went to Kenya.

Last month I had the privilege of participating in my first Impact Trip, where I was able to see the work of CARE for AIDS up close in Nairobi, Kenya. I was humbled to sit with individuals in their homes and hear stories of heartache and triumph, of isolation and of hope-filled community. I heard stories like that of Anne, a mother of three, who is teaching the skills she is learning at the local CARE for AIDS center to her 12 year old daughter, and bringing another income into their household. Or stories like Florence’s, whose husband left her after finding out she was HIV positive.

I couldn’t feel far away from HIV/AIDS anymore. Story after story was bringing the disease closer and closer, making it bigger, louder, and scarier with each step forward. Sitting on the edge of the bed next to Janet, who couldn’t work because of her HIV positive status and her small baby, and whose landlord had cut off her water supply, did not allow me to separate myself from the disease any longer.

HIV/AIDS creates the perfect storm. It is a virus contracted sexually, leading to distortion of relationships. Many individuals with HIV/AIDS are shunned by their families, friends, and neighbors, creating an emptiness where community should be. It weakens you, making the body far more susceptible to other diseases and illnesses. Mind, body, and soul are attacked: the perfect cocktail of stigma, illness, and loneliness — a playing ground for the enemy of our hearts. The storm seemed small from my studio apartment in Atlanta, but it was so obviously devastating up close. Thankfully, we serve a God who walks steady among storms.

What can a virus destroy that the man who walks on water cannot restore? Nothing.

As I settle back into life in the States after a short 10 days in Kenya, I am wonderfully overwhelmed by the man walking on the water. How He is using the local church to bring redemption to those suffering from this dreaded virus is beautiful. Relationships are being restored, families are being reconciled, and babies are being born of HIV+ mothers without a trace of the virus. Jesus is using CARE for AIDS and its dedicated staff to break the cycle of stigma and illness in East Africa. The storm that is HIV/AIDS is not too big for Him. Jesus is close to those in East Africa that are suffering with HIV, but He is steady in the storm.

She

This morning’s post is a beautiful reflection from CARE for AIDS supporter and friend, Laura Gravitt.


She is beautiful and strong. And yet, she feels unattractive and weak. She has lost so much weight from being sick. The simple task of lifting her body from her cot each morning is becoming increasingly hard. She is tired of feeling tired. Who can She tell? Who will listen?

She is brave and fiercely protective of her children. And yet, she is scared and knows in her heart they are not safe. She fears this sickness will take her. What happens to her children when she can’t be there for them? All 5 of them. 5 Littles are young. They need her. She must be brave. She is their hope. She longs to see them have a secure future. How can She succeed? Who will help?

She is proud and capable. And yet, she is ashamed of her withering body. She lacks energy to properly care for 5 Littles. She knows they are hungry for more than She can give them. Does anyone have extra food to share? Who will care?

She is willing to work and must work hard. 5 Littles must eat. She tries to sell vegetables, but no one wants to buy what She is selling. She is shunned by her community. They turn a blind eye. She is invisible. Worse, She is dying.  How can She buy medicine? Who will see?

She is sure of many things. She is sure she loves 5 Littles. She is sure She wants to have hope and a future. And yet, She has no hope and is unsure of her future. She is unsure of how long She will be able to take care of 5 Littles. She is unsure of how She will survive in a world that seems darker each passing day. Surely, there is someone who can show her a better way, a better life. But who? Who? 

Then, She is seen by CARE for AIDS. She is heard. She is helped. She is cared for and loved. She receives wise counsel, medicine, and food for her family. She is taught a new trade which will supply money to care for 5 Littles. CARE for AIDS knows there is LIFE BEYOND AIDS. She is valuable in God’s eyes; therefore, She is valuable to CARE for AIDS.

She is redeemed.

She is renewed.

She has hope and a future.


We want to invite you to join our team across East Africa and the US in praying for our clients and their nations during this season of Lent. You can access our six week Lenten Prayer Guide here.  

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Go to the Gates - Ash Wednesday

At some point in the course of most of our Impact Trips we host a Vacation Bible School at a CARE for AIDS partner church. If I’m being honest, these are the days of each trip’s itinerary that stress me out the most. Wrangling hundreds of kids to play games is not my favorite way to spend the day, but I push usually through, and the Lord always reveals a beautiful truth to me through the experience.

One of the most profound VBS experiences I will always remember happened in 2014 in a community in Nairobi called Ngando. At one point in the afternoon we had the children spit into two large groups for relay races and games. As we prepared to teach the children how to play duck-duck-goose, we instructed our group to circle up and hold hands in the center of a field right inside the church compound gates. One little girl, Esther, was particularly excited, and grabbed onto my hand, jumping up and down and giggling while we waited to start the game.

As I looked around, taking an inventory of the kids, I noticed a girl standing right at the gates on the edge of the compound, shyly looking in at the fun being had. Esther caught my gaze and looked over to the girl at the gates. She looked up at me, looked at her hand holding mine, and then ran to the girl at the gates. My immediate thought was that we were now one kid down. I didn’t want her to run too far, so I almost ran after her, but before I could even call to her, Esther surprised me.

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She grabbed the little girl’s hand and was running with her back into the filed of the compound. Esther ushered the shy girl to my left side and placed the girls hand in mine, then resumed her place to my right, grabbed my hand again and looked up at me. She was absolutely beaming.

Esther was exited before, but including her new friend in the fun increased her joy to exuberance. 

This Ash Wednesday, as we enter into the season of Lent, I want to challenge you to run to the gate- to the margins- to those who are standing on the outside of your faith and looking in - and usher them into the coming joy. What Esther understood was that it isn’t a party unless everyone is invited. I believe the same to be true about celebrating the coming resurrection of Christ. We are called as believers to run to the margins and bring people into the joy that we have been gifted. How can you intentionally bring people into joy during this season?


We want to invite you to join our team across East Africa and the US in praying for our clients and their nations during this season of Lent. You can access our six week Lenten Prayer Guide here.

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: http://www.auburncommunitychurch.com/sermonarchive/


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