Week 2 - The Local Church in Africa
Though treatment is readily available for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the stigma associated with the disease continues to stop many people from asking for help and accessing it. Please pray that the church will use its influence to educate and give hope to those infected with HIV. Pray that as congregations accept, love, and care for those who are sick, those around them will begin to do the same, halting judgement and stigmatisation.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends - John 15:12-13 (NLT)
Breaking the Stigma
Emily Dinhira serves with Hands at Work in Care Worker Support. Born in Zimbabwe, Emily has experienced the effect of HIV/AIDS on more than half of her own family. “There is still stigma because there is still judgement,” Emily says. “We are judging people based on things they have done, whether by choice or not by choice. In our communities, HIV/AIDS is primarily a sexual disease, and that brings the stigma.” After years of caring for not only her own family, but many people throughout Africa infected with HIV, Emily believes our hope to break the stigma is found in Jesus. In John 8 (NLT), a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery is brought before Jesus by the Pharisees who ask him if she should be stoned. Jesus says, ‘Let the one who have never sinned throw the first stone!’ Her accusers begin slipping away, until only Jesus stands in the crowd with the woman. He asks her where her accusers are and says, ‘Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord’, she replies. Jesus says, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’ Emily reflects, “Look at Jesus. He did not endorse what the woman did, but he did not judge her or her actions. He accepted, loved, and understood her. We are all sinners. We are called to love, not to condemn. The church must bring love, healing, and salvation to those with HIV.”