AIDS, the Social Gospel, and the Gospel

The other day, Thabiti Anyabwile posted some powerful reflections on his time in Africa. He was in an area where 85% of people there–men, women, and children–are HIV positive and dying of AIDS. What he said about the ministry he worked with I could say the same for Africa Renewal Ministries in Uganda. Here is a powerful must-read section explaining the important relationship between the gospel we declare in words and the gospel we demonstrate in our deeds:

Today, we visited a ministry called Lily of the Valley. It’s a very comprehensive effort to try and address this pandemic: gospel preaching and Bible teaching, housing for AIDS orphans, medical clinic, cottage industry/business. They’re doing a valiant work. Please pray for them.

As we toured the place and heard more about the ministry, I was left with a couple thoughts:

1. These people are trying to re-engineer an entire society. The problem and the work are massive. For example, just how do you re-introduce fatherhood to a culture when virtually none are known or exist?

2. The implications of the gospel are enormous for this re-engineering effort. Not only must these dear people in God’s image come to believe in Christ and be saved, the outworkings of gospel life must be freshly imaged and lived as the only reconstructive force powerful enough to address this plague. If the succeeding generation isn’t swept up in a revival, a supernatural enlargement of God’s converting and sanctifying work through His Spirit, then the catastrophic effects of sin will destroy them. And this sin attacks at the very point where promiscuity meets reproductive hope.

3. This makes squabbles about the social gospel almost irrelevant. I say “almost” because anything that obscures or supplants the gospel that saves cannot be completely irrelevant and must be avoided. The social gospel dooms people to hell. But in the final analysis, so too does a so-called “biblical” gospel that gets penal substitution, justification, repentance and faith correct but never moves us to preach it, teach it, spread it, apply it, and risk it and ourselves in caring for the needs of people perishing in sin and disease and hunger and war and poverty and illiteracy.

Please take the time to read the whole post.

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Take a Stand as a Family for Children at Risk

More than 1.2 billion children around the world grow up without hope and basic necessities. This large group is normally untouched by the message of God’s love and compassion. What can we do?

Red Card: Standing Against Oppression, Providing Hope is a new curriculum on children at risk created by Caleb Resources, a Pioneers team based in Denver. The unique feature of Red Card is the target audience – families. It builds family unity and empowers kids to become advocates for vulnerable children, their own peers. This 8-week family class raises awareness of six different types of children at risk:

  • children in poverty
  • orphans
  • street kids
  • child laborers
  • children of war
  • and children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Hands-on learning allows participants to step into the daily lives of children at risk, motivating them to make a difference.

For more information and a sample lesson, go to www.redcardkids.org

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Is Adoption the Answer to HIV/AIDS in Africa?

Melissa Fay Green answers this question in her book There is No Me Without You:

“Adoption is not the answer to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Adoption rescues few. Yet, adoption illustrates by example: these few once-loved children – who lost their parents to preventable diseases – have been offered a second chance at family life in foreign countries; like young ambassadors, they instruct us. From them, we gain impressions about what their age-mates must be like, the ones living and dying by the millions, without parents, in the cities and villages of Africa. For every orphan turning up in a northern-hemisphere household – winning the spelling bee, winning the cross-country race, joining the Boy Scouts, learning to rollerblade, playing the trumpet or the violin – ten thousand African children remain behind alone.” pp. 24-25

Haregewoin Teferra: Orphans Hero

there-is-no-me-without-youThis week a true hero to the orphans of Africa passed away.

After the loss of her husband and daughter, Haregewoin Teferra, turned her home in Ethiopia into an orphanage for AIDS orphans and began facilitating adoptions to homes all over the world. She passed away of natural causes in her home on Tuesday. Her story is told by author Melissa Fay Green in the book There Is No Me Without You.

In honor of her life and the continuing need for the care of millions of orphans I want to share some quotes from the book over the next week.

Here is the first highlighting the sheer magnitude of the orphan crisis in Africa where close to 12 million children are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS (that’s just Africa!). Melissa Fay Green writes:

“Who was going to raise twelve million children?

That’s what I suddenly wanted to know.

“Who was teaching twelve million children how to swim?

Who was signing twelve million permission slips for school field trips?

Who packed twelve million school lunches?

Who cheered at twelve million soccer games? (That sounded like our weekends.)

Who was going to buy twelve million pairs of sneakers that light up when you jump? Backpacks? Toothbrushes? Twelve million pairs of socks? Who will tell twelve million bedtime stories?

Who will quiz twelve million children on Thursday nights for their Friday morning spelling tests?

Twelve million trips to the dentist?

Twelve million birthday parties?

Who will wake in the night in response to eighteen million nightmares?

Who will offer grief counseling to twelve, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-six million children?

Who will help them avoid lives of servitude or prostitution?

Who will pass on to them the traditions of culture and religion, of history and government, of craft and profession?

Who will help them grow up, choose the right person to marry, find work, and learn to parent their own children?

Well, as it turns out, no one. Or very few. There aren’t enough adults to go around. Athough in the Western industrialized states HIV/AIDS has become a chronic condition rather than a death sentance, in Africa a generation of parents, teachers, principals, physicians, nurses, professors, spiritual leaders, musicians, poets, bureaucrats, coaches, farmers, bankers, and business owners are being erased.” pp. 22-23

Adopting HIV

It goes without saying on a blog like this that one of the ways we can make a difference when it comes to AIDS is through adoption.

But, in particular I want to highlight those children who are HIV positive and those adopting them.

My wife and I watched the video below the other week (it will open in a separate window) and have been burdened ever since. Watching this I could not help but thank God for these families and think of Christ’s call to His church to love the “least of these”. Truly, in our world, those living with AIDS have been relegated to the farthest margins of society (and adoption).

Carolyn
Twietmeyer called her husband at work one day and said she found the
children they were supposed to adopt, and one of them is HIV positive.
Kiel Twietmeyer didn’t really know how to respond. After about two
weeks of contemplation the couple decided they had to go to Ethiopia to
adopt the three siblings orphaned by AIDS. Before leaving to come home
to the U.S., Carolyn took her son to visit his friends at the
orphanage. It was during this visit that she met Selah, also orphaned
by AIDS and living with stage four AIDS. Today, as the newest
Twietmeyer child, Selah’s health has significantly improved with the
help of antiretroviral drugs, a dose of hope, and lots of love from a
blended family.

The idea of
adopting a child with HIV isn’t rare. Margaret Fleming, founder of
Adoption Link and Chances By Choice, an adoption agency for HIV/AIDS
orphans, says there are many parents desiring to adopt a child with
HIV. Today with the advancement of antiretroviral medications the
lifespan of a child living with HIV has greatly increased. Mary Austin,
an RN and adoption advocate with the agency says the virus is often
times more manageable than diabetes. Margaret has adopted three
children with HIV and Mary has adopted one child with HIV.

The
United Nations reports there are 14 million AIDS orphans worldwide. 22
million people have died from AIDS with 74% of that population living
in sub-Saharan Africa.

Visit Project HOPEFUL: www.projecthopeful.org

Visit Adoption Link: www.adoption-link.org