For a while now Building Hope Foundation and Mission4HIV, a ministry of DRC Lynnwood Ridge, have wanted to understand what churches in Pretoria are doing in the response to HIV and then to learn from or support one another in projects where possible. The work of external ministries (OM, PEN etc.) is known, but our quest was to explore more of what churches are doing in terms of prevention, care and empowerment.
The question we put to ourselves was: Why the Church? Why should we be involved in HIV?
The goal was to learn from the work others have been doing and to review current activities against such work, if any.
Background research into the Church’s role w.r.t HIV were conducted but it was found that many documents on the topic were outdated, some of the websites and organisations that published documents did not exist anymore or the organisations have closed their doors. To some extent it is good because it could mean that we are winning the fight against HIV, involvement might not be necessary anymore, but it was sad as well. It appeared as if little has been done in term of ongoing research and ongoing encouragement for the church to be involved.
Research was conducted to identify the either overseeing bodies or specific churches involved in HIV by contacting the national and provincial governing church bodies such as Synods, Councils, and Dioceses etc. The Christian Aids Bureau also provided a list of names whom were all invited. The churches and individual leaders were contacted and invited to the day. The invitation was open and churches were encouraged to invite others that they know of.
Focus of the Day
HIV is declining according to statistics and a general view has emerged that HIV is “not a problem anymore”. Yet, measuring against the responses leading to this initiative, it appears as if churches are fatigued and despondent towards HIV as a focus area.
There was a recurring reaction at many of the churches that were contacted: we are not involved in any HIV or related activities. This shocking remark indicated that churches were not supporting or involved with organisations, ministries or individuals involved in HIV and related activities. Our concerns grew as it appeared that a large number of churches were not ecumenically competent when it comes to HIV. One particular church in the city centre responded that they “cannot” be involved in HIV – “we will loose members if we speak about it”.
On 23 June 2016 we wanted to understand what churches in Pretoria were doing in the response to HIV and then to learn from or support one another in projects where possible. We expected that what we will hear would be a simple message: it isn’t difficult to do something. We also expected that there would only be a handful of churches involved and it was so. Each church representative was given the opportunity to present their church’s involvement.
The participants were from 12 different churches in Pretoria, each one actively involved in various activities from strategic to ground-level. Read the report on what they said at the forum.
God’s story behind this
“About a year ago, God put it on my heart to find out what churches in our city (not ministries) are doing about HIV. I parked the thought but the Spirit kept tugging at my heart. A type of Goliath I had to face. Several people strengthened the Goliath and told me it’s a bit crazy. Mission4HIV and Building Hope tackled the giant and God won!.
This morning we were really privileged to have churches from various denominations in Pretoria together in one room where each one shared what it was they were doing.
Hannes and I, and everyone else who was present, were beyond blessed! It was an incredible morning where people have applied their faith in Christ through simple ideas. They are doing amazing work – some with a lot of resources – others with little but all resulting in a major difference they are making.”