Today is World Aids Day.
It's almost cliché now isn't it? The pictures on tv of starving, abandoned children. It used to bother us, but now after years of seeing non-profit CEO's gain wealth we're almost desensitized. But HIV/AIDS is still here and it is still tearing apart communities across our world.
33.4 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS and 67% of those infected are living is Sub-Saharan Africa (via UNAIDS).
33.4 million people is not just a statistic. The population of New York City is 8,391,881. If we emptied out NYC's population entirely, we could only fit approximately 1/4 of the world's HIV/AIDS victims in the largest city in the United States. NYC wouldn't even hold half the victims in Sub-Saharan Africa. That is a LOT of people suffering from this pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization, most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
HIV/AIDS just doesn't attack ONE individual's health. With the majority of HIV/AIDS victims living in countries without ample care, this disease is taking out entire generations leaving children orphaned & communities broken.
I do and if you're a Christian, you should too. No questions asked, this is definitely not a gray area in the Bible. Dr. Russ Moore of Southern Seminary wrote a phenomenal blog entry entitled "Jesus Has Aids" on last year's World Aids Day (did the title get your attention?). I think his words said it best so I'll spare you my mini-sermon and give you his instead. :)
Through the Spirit of Christ, we “groan” with him at the suffering of a universe still under the curse (Rom. 8:23,26). This curse manifests itself, as in billions of other ways, in bodies turned against themselves by immune systems gone awry.
That’s why the church is to suffer, continually, with Christ as we take his presence into the darkness of a fallen creation. The Apostle Paul says, then, “I rejoice then in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24).
Some of Jesus’ church has AIDS. Some of them are languishing in hospitals right down the street from you. Some of them are orphaned by the disease in Africa. All of them are suffering with an intensity few of us can imagine...
... Through it all, we should be insistent in gospel proclamation. To those whose blood has become their own enemy, we should announce blood they know not of, the blood of One who can cleanse them of all unrighteousness, just as it cleansed us (1 Jn. 1:7); the blood of One who is forever immune to sin and death and hell (Jn. 6:53-56).
Jesus loves the world, and the world has AIDS. Jesus identifies himself with the least of these, and many of them have AIDS. Jesus calls us to recognize him in the depths of suffering, and there’s AIDS there too.
Well said Dr. Moore, enough said on that issue.
Yeah, posting stuff on twitter and changing your facebook photo to have a little red ribbon is cliché if it's all you're doing. Change takes action, it takes work, and sometimes it's messy. So how can you get involved, how can you actually be a part of the reconciliation that our Gospel calls us to? Here are some great ways to get involved...
- Partner with organizations that are Gospel-centered and working in difficult Hiv/Aids inflicted areas. I've mentioned Samaritan's Purse before, but they are just one of many. They list ways that you can get involved HERE.
- Begin consistently praying for our brothers and sisters who are suffering from this epidemic. Be educated in what you're praying for by using resources like UNAIDS, World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, etc.
- Have your Bible study, sunday school class, or family get in touch with an organization like "Be the Virus" and ask to adopt a local church overseas that they're working in. You can contact "Be the Virus" directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Investigate local medical ministries that are reaching out to HIV/AIDS victims in your community.
- If you're an athlete, run a marathon or half marathon through Team Samaritan's Purse for Be the Virus. Trust me, it's a phenomenal experience & the SP team are amazing to work with. If you're an artist, use your gifts to raise money or awareness in your social circles.
These are just a few ideas, but don't let my limited creativity stop you... Dream big! All I ask is that you just don't pretend to care via social media when you're actually siting on the sidelines doing nothing except for posting a tweet once a year.
World Aids Day. It happens once a year, but it should be in our thoughts and prayers throughout the year. Join me in praying for our brothers and sisters that are suffering from this pandemic. After all if we are the hands and feet of Jesus, how will they come to know the ultimate Healer if we stay on the sidelines?
Peace & Love - B.