Still, A Deep Quest for Wholeness
Of course, she would want to be free of HIV. Of course, I could pray for her and her sisters-of-another-mother. However, the center of my thoughts was how much I wanted wholeness for each person in the room: not just freedom from disease, but a full embrace from God, living God. Particularly, the one woman in the back. I knew that gathering with others monthly at Kale Heywet Church in Addis Ababa brought mixed feelings: the marginalizing reminder that she is part of the group labeled PLWHA (People living with HIV and AIDS) perhaps contrasting with moments of felt freedom each time she attended …maybe even evidence of God’s presence.
Joining a roomful of women wrapped mostly in white cotton- 40+packed together in a dusty cool room at the end of a long day, we listened to a woman they knew from months of talks and practical assistance. The speaker’s face was bright and confident as she finished speaking in Amharic. I suspected that she also lived with the disease; but she looked different, she knew liberation of a different sort. What kind of release did the group want for themselves?
I sat in the back near a woman who clearly didn’t want to be there. While others followed the words of the speaker, she tolerated. Everything about her body said she wanted out. Perhaps she was not a Christ-follower, perhaps an Orthodox Christian but suspicious of Evangelicals, maybe secular, traditional or Muslim-background in her beliefs. No matter, KHC served all with kindness. Following the message, guests were introduced by our Ethiopian team member.
As he spoke, my thoughts returned to how much I wanted each woman to know healing from the brokenness she felt, from a sense of distance from God, persecution from those close to her, memories of abuse and hardship, shame, lost loved ones or continuing anguish over her circumstances. Boldly, I responded to the internal prompting and asked permission to follow the leading. As others prayed and sang, I moved through the room, laying my hands on each woman in prayerful petition—touching her shoulder, head or back. Many were already weeping. What would God want for their broken lives? How should I pray? The Spirit led on.
Kondwani in Malawi: Knowledge is Power
1 in 8 adults in Malawi are infected with HIV. Kondwani Kanyimbiri is building bridges with HOPE for AIDS in rural Malawi and his peers to bring this number down. Over the last 4 years, he has worked with 100 peer educators in area churches to reach their own communities with AIDS Education and words of hope to help Christians reach out to their HIV positive neighbors.
Once trained, the educators run ten-week rurally-based courses and AIDS awareness events using drama, debate, song and sport. Volunteers are growing in capacity AND confidence as the see God changing perspectives. The more Kondwani grows, the more he mentors his peers.
The HOPE for AIDS Prevention of HIV & AIDS program in Malawi supports skilled and godly men like Kondwani who are making a difference in local communities. If you’d like to sponsor the work, find our donate page and give online to to project 96554.
Epilepsy, Holy Water and Street Orthodoxy
Addis contracted HIV from her parents. She lost her mom when she was 3 and her Dad when she was 10. She and her sister Rekik thought they may be fine if they could just care for each other. An epileptic episode struck Rekik when the two girls traveled far from home toward a church thinking the Holy Water they found there might heal both of their conditions. When they stepped through the door, Rekik’s episode hit and she, too, passed from Addis’s life that day.
Looking for care, Addis approached her grandmother but was turned away for fear that the HIV virus may contaminate her home. So, left again, on her own, Addis gave it a try. Self support. Living in Northern Ethiopia, she was advised by people in her village to head toward Addis Ababa where she would have a better chance of survival by begging on the streets. They gave her money for a bus ticket and she was on her way.
While on the streets, government workers noticed her, reported her to the HOPE for AIDS Orphan Care program and this is where we met. Right away, we enrolled her in our support services and she now has shelter at the Orthodox church, domestic items to make her stay comfortable, a seat in the fifth grade class at the community school, a uniform, pencils, paper and meals.
When Addis checks in every week, she talks about missing her dad. She cries. We cry. 12 years old is not the time to be on your own. We’re working, praying to keep her close. So far, her neighbors were right. She’s rebuilding a family. In Addis.