Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

HIV/AIDS as part of the church’s mission

The story of HIV/AIDS is not a nice one. Some time ago I read the story about the beginning years of this virus. It is a book written by Randy Shilts and the title is: And the band played on. I consider this essential reading for anyone interested in the problem of HIV/AIDS. A documentary movie was also made about this book which is also good, but obviously it does not contain as much information as the book.
The truth is that, had we kept to God’s standards, HIV/AIDS would not have been the problem that we are experiencing now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming or stigmatising anyone. In fact, I’m on the forefront telling the church that we are not in a position to discriminate against anyone with HIV/AIDS. (I’m still going to write about our work in Swaziland with those infected with HIV). The point I’m trying to make is that the story of HIV/AIDS is not something that we as Christians feel comfortable with. It has a lot to do with promiscuity, adultery, rape, molestation and many other words and topics that we would prefer to exclude from our Christian vocabulary.
A friend of mine wrote a book about AIDS (way back in the 80s when nobody really took this very seriously) and he named it: AIDS: The leprosy of our time? This book is not implying that there is some kind of relationship between AIDS and leprosy. Rather it concerns the way in which the church responds to this problem. In Biblical times those with leprosy were rejected (in modern terms we would say that they were stigmatised) and pushed out of the community. One of the most remarkable accounts in the Bible about the way in which Jesus responded to the problem of leprosy, was when a man came to Him in Luke 5:12 & 13 and said: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” What I find remarkable in this story is not so much the fact that Jesus healed the man. There are ample stories of healing written in the Bible and most probably there are many more that are not recorded in the Bible.
What touched me when I read this story again some time ago was that it says: Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Touching someone with leprosy was strictly forbidden by the law, as this would make that person unclean (Leviticus 13). And yet this is exactly what Jesus does: He reaches out and touches this man with leprosy. In my work amongst people with AIDS I make a point of physically touching that person. Not that I enjoy doing it! But I believe that, through this very act of Jesus touching the man with leprosy, He demonstrated the love of God to that person. If we as Christians want to break through the stigmatisation of those with HIV/AIDS, then the church will have to reach out and touch those who are infected.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007 - Posted by | HIV & AIDS

1 Comment »

  1. […] I preached about God’s caring attitude. I preached about the way that Jesus reached out and touched the man with leprosy. After three or four months I arranged a meeting with the church members and […]

    Pingback by Becoming the hands and feet of Christ (2) « Mission Issues | Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Reply

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