I want to periodically update readers on our daughter’s work as a health educator with the Assemblies of God World Missions, specifically with Global AIDS Partnership (GAP). Kayla finished her two degrees in May 2010 (nursing and biblical studies) and is now on the mission field with a two year appointment with GAP. Below is an excerpt from her September newsletter. Truly, the fields are ripe unto harvest—home is the training ground for future missionaries, evangelists, pastors, counselors, and other Christian workers, as well as the training ground for future Christian parents who will pass on the faith to their children. Let us not grow weary in well doing!
In the latter part of September, I was able to spend a week with a GAP co-worker in Gaborone, Botswana, teaching at the Assemblies Bible College (ABC as they call it) on the church’s role in HIV/AIDS. Botswana has the second highest HIV rates in the world with twenty-five percent or one in four of the adult population being HIV positive. Botswana’s government’s response is considered one of the best in Africa because they responded faster than most other governments in their region and over the past several years have implemented one of the most successful nation-wide treatment and testing programs in the world.
This program has been successful at improving life-span and quality of life of its citizens who are HIV positive, yet the numbers of new infections keeps growing. One of the students at the Bible school explained that discrepancy this way: “They treat the disease, but they don’t deal with the life-style changes that would prevent it.”
Those changes, abstinence and fidelity in marriage, are difficult in nations like Botswana where historically culture has expected a person to have multiple partners both in and outside of marriage. Botswana’s mining industry has made it even more difficult since many men are away from their families for long periods of time while they work. And complicating the problem even more is the historical silence of Botswana’s churches on HIV.
That silence is changing. The two of us being brought in to teach on HIV (the first time the Bible College had addressed the issue) was proof of that. The students and facility at the school are recognizing the invaluable role the church needs to have in their nation’s response to HIV. After all, who is better qualified to teach and model behavioral change than Christ followers?
It was a very encouraging trip and we pray that the ideas and issues that we talked about in class will take root in the hearts of those young pastors, and as they start leading their own congregations, they will be able to reach out to those affected by the epidemic and take steps to reduce its spread and help their members implement the lifestyle changes associated with the Christian faith—which will, in turn, help reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS.