I previously mentioned that “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!” 

Are we?  I wonder?  Is it presumptuous for me to say this?  I visit these villages and see people living on around $1 a day or less and pray with them and am given hope that God is alive.  Then I go back to my nice apt where I am not rich but I certainly make more than $1 a day.  Am I really in this with those I’ve left back upcountry? 

I don’t know. 

CRWRC is currently in the beginnings of a two-year campaign called “Embrace AIDS” to raise money to fight AIDS in Latin America, Africa and Asia.  Apparently the title is causing some concern amidst our denomination.  “Embrace AIDS” does not imply that we are cheering people on to sin, as some may imply.  There are many people who are HIV+ that have ‘lived right’ if you will.  They saved themselves for marriage, they have been faithful to their spouse, and they have never done drugs.  However, there are people who sin (I am one of them, aren’t you?) and make mistakes.  Husbands move to the city to find work to support their family and one night they find the loneliness overwhelming and sleep with a woman.  These men then go back to their families and make love to their wives.  Later, they find out that not only are they both HIV+ but so is their newborn child. 

There are also cultural issues at hand that provide a breeding ground for HIV/AIDS.  Rape is prevalent as tribes battle one another in places around the world.  There is also something called wife inheritance.  For instance, if we practiced this in the States this is what it would look like. 

  • Let’s take my sister who has been married about 2 years.  Say that, God forbid it, my brother-in-law dies of a heart attack.  Wife inheritance allows his brothers, the older with first choice, to marry my sister, regardless of what she wants.  Say the brother was HIV+.  Now my sister is too.  My sister is in her early 20’s with plenty of ‘baby-producing years’ ahead of her.  Now, not only is her new husband HIV+, but so is my sister and so possibly are any children they may have.  Now picture this in a world where mortality comes much earlier than in the States and realize that this can potentially happen often. 
  • Women are considered lower citizens, if they are even considered citizens, in much of the world.  They do not enjoy the rights, equality and privileges that women of North America enjoy.  They are bought and sold like cattle in some places and have little choice as to whom, when and where.

Not everyone who is HIV+ made a decision that led to that diagnosis.  It hurts my heart to know that people are angry about supporting something that is ravaging the world in a way that cannot be understood easily in rural America.  I say this because I have lived in rural America.  AIDS was far from my thoughts.  It didn’t impact me so I focused on many other things, some worthy of my attention, some not.

I am here to tell you.  I have visited homes where HIV/AIDS is evident.  I have visited with people hurting emotionally, mentally and physically because of the stigma related to HIV/AIDS.  I have seen, heard and read about people who were so afraid of what others would say that they fled their families and homes, leaving small children behind with no explanation, all because they were afraid of how others would treat them or their family members if they discovered their ‘secret.’

HIV/AIDS is very real.  It’s very serious.  It’s killing men, women and children every moment of the day and night. 

If we don’t, as Christians, reach out and love, who will?  Christ calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  How much do you love you?  Please share some of that love with those around you.  Who am I, who are you, to judge?  I have a hard time with this myself.  I’m good at throwing a quick judgment out at people.  I pray often for deliverance from my overzealous pride and judgment.  Jesus was brought a woman caught in the act of adultery.  Instead of calling her a hoochie and condeming her to death, which was the law, he simply said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Everyone walked away and Jesus forgave the woman.  Where is my forgiveness and love and grace as I look into the face of HIV/AIDS? 

 

I encourage you to look at the above website and really read what is there.  Let go of bias and pray for the Holy Spirit to open your heart.  I did and I wept.

I am also going to include several websites on my resources page that I encourage you to visit if you have the time.

We may not be all in this together but we certainly don’t have to be worlds apart either. 

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