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A Christian Response to AIDS Prepared by Dr. Howard Brant SIM Serving In Mission For IFMA – Sept. 16, 2000
The Shocking Facts – June 2000 • 34.3 million people are now HIV positive. • Of that number, 90% may not even know it. • Of those 34.3 m., 24.5 m. live in Africa (70%). • In Botswana, 35% of all adults are already HIV positive. • Last year 5.5 m. new people were infected. • Last year 2.8 m. people died of AIDS. • Now someone dies of AIDS every 11 seconds, • 320 per hour, • 7,600 per day. Facts and figures provided by UNAIDS
The Tragedy of AIDS • AIDS cuts its path through the “at risk” sectors of society (homosexuals and those who have casual sex). • The swath it takes, however, is much wider as it hits faithful partners and infants. • One-third of all children born to HIV positive mothers are also infected. • 3.8 m. children have already died of AIDS. • There are already 13.2 m AIDS orphans in the world
A well-to-do mother in Africa noted her daughter was growing thin. When diagnosed with AIDS she demanded, “Who have you been sleeping with?” “My brother,” came her response. “And what about you?” she asked the brother. “The maid,” he said. Mother screamed at the maid, threatening to kill her. The maid said, “But I got it from your husband!” As those words sank in, the mother realized that she too was likely infected. The whole family eventually died – of AIDS.
One Ugandan woman raised 4 daughters and 9 sons. Eleven died with AIDS – leaving her with 22 orphaned grand children. She reported, “My children left me nothing with which to care for them.” Overwhelmed, she put them in her hut and locked the door saying, “Now we will all starve to death– and join the others.” A surviving daughter found and saved them. (Reported by World Vision)
He asks, “What will happen if they turn into children’s armies demanding food and shelter?” Devastation • When AIDS strikes a typical family in sub-Saharan Africa: • The family will spend 41% less on food. • 50% of school children will drop out of school because the family can no longer pay school fees. • Up to a year’s salary will usually be spent in the last year trying to save the person from certain death. • One out of four families in Uganda is presently caring for an orphan. • Columnist George Wills estimates there will be 40 million AIDs orphans by the end of this decade.
Total Breakdown • Already in Africa: • Schools are closing down in Botswana because so many teachers have died of AIDS (1300 teachers died in Zambia in 1998). • Laws were passed limiting funerals to Saturdays—because too many workers were absent on work days while attending funerals. • Corporations doing business in Africa constantly over-hire to allow for AIDS attrition. • AIM reports that 95% of the people on one island in Lake Victoria have AIDS. The island could be deserted in seven years.
The Bottom Line “The world has never before experienced death rates of this magnitude among young adults of both sexes along all social strata.” “For the first time in history, the mid-aged population will be smaller than the elderly population. Will the ‘survivors’ be able to cope with the economic pressure?”
Traditional Approaches The pandemic of HIV/AIDS has taken three times more lives than predicted in 1990. • “Safe sex.” The pundits applaud Brazil’s sale of 360 million condoms last year! • Information blitz – it was thought that if everyone knew about AIDS it would stop. • National and Internationalintervention programs were seen as the answer. • Anti-retroviral drugs help to slow the disease but are not available to all. • The long sought after medical magic bullet – HIV vaccine still eludes us.
What Happened in Uganda? • One of the few countries in the world to thwart the onslaught of AIDS is UGANDA. • How did they do it? • They brought all resources to bear on the problem, including the Church. • They stopped preaching “safe sex” and started preaching “zero grazing” (i.e. fidelity and abstinence). • Since 1992 they have reduced the percentage of HIV positive from 13% down to about 5.5%. • Now even the secular world is talking about RBIs = Religious Based Initiatives.
AIDS from God’s Perspective • We do not have to be “hyper-Calvinists” to believe that God has allowed the AIDS pandemic to come into our world at this time. What is He trying to say? • What is He saying to a world that is forsaking His laws of morality and denigrating the sacred institutions of family and marriage? • What is He saying to His Church/Mission who live in the context of AIDS about our responsibility to speak the truth – but also to reach out with hands of compassion to those stricken by the plague? what is He trying to say?
What does God say • To young people contemplating sex before marriage? • To those already married committing adultery? • To those involved in homosexuality or prostitution? • To a person just diagnosed as HIV+? • To a dying (innocent) mother leaving her children? • To the 13 million children orphaned by AIDS? • To those who grieve the loss of their loved ones? • To the penitent – or those who have lost hope? • To those left with the cruel consequences?
Assurance of forgiveness to the penitent The Church has the ONLY ANSWER Hope of the resurrection to the dying • To those not yet affected we say, “God has reserved sex for you and your marriage partner.” • To those affected we say, “Aids is not the end of existence – there is life after death.” • To ourselves we say, “If God has placed needy people at our door, does He not expect us to care for them compassionately?” The promise of eternal life to all who believe
Plague of Numbers 16 44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly." Then they fell on their faces. 46 Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!"
47 Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, forbehold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. • He took his stand • between the dead and the living, • so thatthe plague was checked.
IS GOD SAYING SOMETHING ToMe? ToYou? ToUS? ToUS? ToUS? T oUS?
Other Missions AIDS Your Church Your Mission
Questions for us to Ponder • Given this challenge, how will each mission agency respond? • Will we try to minister alone in this context, or does this situation demand that we pool the combined resources of church and mission to meet this emergency? • What forums exist for churches and missions to share information and ideas, and where some common strategies can be worked out in this crisis?