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|Why Should The Church Respond To Hiv/aids Pandemic? by bruce(m): 4:12pm On May 17, 2007|
This is my own opinion; an article I wrote to a Christian NGO when asked to.
It might be of interest to the house.
WHY SHOULD THE CHURCH RESPOND TO THE HIV AND AIDS PANDEMIC?
For two decades of heroic lab work, modern science is arm-wrestling with HIV and losing. The promise of a safe and effective vaccine against HIV is almost in the realm of science fiction. More people than ever before are using life-sustaining, Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs. But the growth rate of new infections outspaces modern medicine by a wide margin.
The condom-dominant prevention strategy is also failing. Researchers are finding compelling evidence that people who engage in high-risk sex may gain a false sense of security anticipating the supposed benefits that condoms and ARV drugs provide. The infection rate is about 14,000 new HIV cases daily. Right now, over 41 million people are HIV positive worldwide, with a greater half in the African Continent. It is therefore obvious that without the participation of the Church and a renewal of biblical values, drugs and condoms alone will never stop this pandemic.
One will then agree, that a suitable and immediate answer to the question on why should the Church respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic is, because “Jesus Christ would have done so himself, even far more than we would have expected.” If the Church is the body of Christ and Christ is the head of the Church (Eph.5:23, Col.1:18) and the Church preach Christ, then, it is expected that the Church should act and respond to the pandemic as Christ in his compassionate nature would have responded (Matth.14:14, 20:34, Mark 1:41). Most especially as the pandemic is eating deep into the fabric of the Church – because majority of the affected people are members of the Church (Christians) – and because it is hampering the Church from achieving its main duty of soul winning.
This is so because, the Church can not successfully achieve its mandate of meeting the spiritual needs of the people and winning souls for Christ by neglecting the material, physical, emotional, and psychological needs of its members. While acknowledging first and foremost his mission on earth (Mark 1:38 ), Jesus Christ never failed to realize the importance of healing and feeding people (Mark 1:30 -34, Luke 9:11 -17, Matth 15:32 -38), at the same time preaching the Kingdom of God . Therefore, God’s church must address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and engage every possible resource with courage, commitment, and total resolve.
There are many ways to start. If leaders in our churches talked about the realities of HIV more openly, it would reduce the shame associated with having the virus. If Churches helped people get free, confidential testing with counseling – if churches created within their buildings an open-to-all place of safety and emotional shelter – people with HIV would come to experience the Church as the body of Christ. If Christians through their churches would befriend persons at high risk for HIV infection, those individuals might think twice about engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours. If churchgoers routinely visited people and families with HIV/AIDS, the passionate concern of Christ for the sick would be made real to them.
It is in the same view that, Rick and Kay Warren – pastors and founders of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest , California – and other Speakers in a conference spoke of the urgent need for the Church to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In responding to HIV/AIDS, churches should follow the example of Jesus, who cared for the sick, touched them, and healed, Warren said. ”Our responsibility as his followers is to do what he would do and go where he would go.” Kay Warren and other speakers challenged churches to respond to the AIDS pandemic in six (6) main ways, outlined in the acronym C.H.U.R.C.H.:
1. CARE: This is the first step necessary for responding to the plight of those living with the virus. It is proper for someone who wants to follow Jesus’ example. Many Bible verses recorded that Jesus was filled with compassion when he met someone who was sick. He never asked, “How did you get it?” In tangible ways, therefore, Christians (the Church) need to demonstrate and show love (John 13:35 ) and probably adopt the slogan: “Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin” or better still “Love the Victim and Hate the Virus.”
2. HANDLE TESTING AND COUNSELING: In some Nations, Churches could be permitted to administer HIV tests themselves. In other Nations, a Church might host medical professionals to administer the test while church members volunteer to counsel or pray with people being tested. By getting involved in HIV testing, the Church lets the world know that it is not afraid. And when a Pastor is tested, people recognize the Church as a safe place of hope for those who are HIV positive; a place where people can come and meet Jesus.
3. UNLEASHING A VOLUNTEER FORCE OF COMPASSION: Christians must fight HIV because it is an evil virus that destroys individuals and families, Warren said. “It’s not a battle against people”, she said. “It’s a battle against Evil, the enemy of our souls.” The Church needs to get involved because it’s the only group that will last forever. “It’s the Church of Jesus Christ that will outlast every government and business”, she added. To care and exhibit this compassion, churches should be involved in HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support.
4. REMOVE THE STIGMA: Stigmatization (even in the Church) is one aspect that has led to the death (psychologically) of people living with HIV/AIDS before their actual death. One lifelong Nigerian Christian confided in his pastor about being HIV positive. On the next Sunday, he was publicly banished. He said, “A lot of us from the Church are rejected, despised, frustrated by the very Church where we are expected to love [and be loved].” I think the first question a church should ask of someone who is HIV positive is “How can we help?”, and not “How did you get it?”
5. CHAMPION HEALTHY BEHAVIOUR: The Church is called to champion healthy behaviours by promoting sexual abstinence – purity – for the unmarried and strong, mutual faithful marriages. It should also promote people getting tested to know their HIV status for healthy choices. This can only be achievable through constant information dissemination. Pastors should talk with their congregations about abstinence and sex, inculcating biblical values in members and letting people know that God has a plan for sexuality that can be learned and lived out within and outside the Church.
6. HELP WITH NUTRITION AND MEDICATION: If the Church is to be pro-life, then it has an obligation to preserve life by assisting people to get the food and medicine they need. When food needs are not met, those who are HIV positive get sick more quickly. And though most of the world has no access to antiretroviral medications, those with medications often fail to take them because of the difficult side effects. To take the medications, they need a community of supportive people around them.
ONE CHURCH, ONE DISEASE.
Taking for example what one organization has done to defeat one disease. Rotary International has been fighting Polio since 1979. It has developed a global volunteer force to partner with health agencies to eliminate a single disease. In 1988, there were 350,000 Polio cases. At the end of 2005, there were 1,670 cases worldwide – better than a 99 percent reduction.
There are 1.2 million Rotarians around the world. Then, imagine what 2 billion Christians might accomplish as one faithful force against one disease. Imagine the possibilities for proving church-mocking skeptics wrong. Imagine closed doors opening for the gospel. Imagine lives saved. A world in the ever-tightening grip of HIV doesn’t stand a chance without us – The Church. Otherwise, if members of the church suffers because of its inaction, the Church suffers too (1 Corinth 12:26 -27).
Finally, in the words of Christ to his followers (the Church), he said, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine out for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NLT).
|Re: Why Should The Church Respond To Hiv/aids Pandemic? by TellyB(m): 4:19pm On May 17, 2007|
|Re: Why Should The Church Respond To Hiv/aids Pandemic? by bruce(m): 4:57pm On May 17, 2007|
|Re: Why Should The Church Respond To Hiv/aids Pandemic? by bruce(m): 2:52pm On Jun 22, 2007|
How active has the Church been in this regard?
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