Celebrating God's Goodness - FIVE YEARS IN REVIEW - 2010-2015
Greetings from AAIM!, the Adventist AIDS International Ministry.
We like to call it the Ministry of Hope, Love and Compassion!
In looking back and contemplating the accomplishments during the last quinquenium, we were tempted to focus on the things we have done all these years. Instead, today, we want all our thoughts and praise to go to our Lord Jesus Christ, without whom nothing of this would have been possible. We want to focus on Him, and only Him, and to recognize that He is the One who has given us the light and the encouragement to start what seemed to be an impossible mission.
Yes, at the beginning of this ministry everybody though it was an impossible mission to fight AIDS in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a conservative church, where very few people would have had the courage to talk about AIDS and its related subjects.
Even our officers, did not believed that this Ministry was going to go too far. At that time, people were dying in great numbers, and the treatments we have today were not available. Our Pastors were scared to preach or even talk about AIDS, and we used to discriminate and even fire HIV positive people in our schools and church institutions…
However, God strongly impressed our hearts with the verse found in Matthew 19:26: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” and that was the starting point!
We understood that this was His program and not ours, and having Jesus as our partner in Ministry brought new energy and ideas.
From the beginning, we felt welcomed in the churches, and we received a strong support.
This allowed for an energetic start that covered the Sub-Saharan African territory with numerous training programs on AIDS Prevention, Care and Support.
AIDS awareness was raised high in all the churches, and an open conversation about the epidemic was encouraged.
Today, and by the grace of God, AAIM has implemented programs and projects in 26 African countries.
HIV and AIDS continues to be a very challenging and risky situation.
The Adventist AIDS International Ministry, AAIM, has been very active in the life of the church in this territory.
AAIM helped to appoint HIV/AIDS Coordinators in the Unions and Conferences, and later in the churches. Once this network was established, Church Based Support Groups were created, and help was provided to the people in the neighborhoods around our churches.Jesus method was put in action and thousands of people benefited from that. The HIV infected and affected received attention, and several programs were put in motion, for example:
1) HIV/AIDS Prevention, especially among the Youth, became a very strong ministry.
2) Home Based Care, that made a huge impact in the lives of many People HIV positive. A large group of caregivers visited the people HIV positive in their homes, providing care and support, which included clothing, food and clean water, together with prayers and singing. They assisted the very weak with rehabilitation which led to their recovery. We have personally witnessed the recovery of many people that were facing a certain death.
3) Income Generating Activities to help the infected and affected.
4) The implementation of Training Centers in our churches was a great success, especially in the King’eero Church in Nairobi. Many activities continue to take place, like bakeries, sewing workshops, yogurt factories, arts and crafts, soap making, mushrooms production, and others.
5) Fighting Stigma and Discrimination. through Associations of Adventists living with HIV/AIDS.
In order to break the silence and stigma, it is very important that HIV positive people come to the open and talk.
6) Grandmothers’ Support Groups and other groups. This was a very important achievement, especially because by supporting the grandmothers we are supporting the orphans. This epidemic has produced millions of orphans, and they deserve our best possible care. A grandmother is the most powerful tool we have for the care of those children.
7) Helping Underserved Populations to fight HIV/AIDS, Several Comprehensive Workshops on HIV/AIDS for the Maasai tribe in the Kajiado Region took place in the last 5 years. A strong interaction with the youth became a reality, and 38 Maasai accepted counseling and testing.
8) In September 2014, the biggest Adventist Convention on HIV and AIDS took place at ECD in Nairobi, Kenya. More than 70 HIV/AIDS Coordinators and associates gathered there.
9) and the list goes on…
Today, there is no longer silence about HIV/AIDS in a significant number of Adventist Churches in Africa!!!
Silence and Stigma are being destroyed!!!
We believe that we need to consolidate and expand the work done so far, and to make every effort toward reaching the World Health Organization goals of: Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Deaths due to AIDS and Zero Stigma and Discrimination.
Regarding the AIDS epidemic, the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to be in a unique position to make a very substantial contribution in the action against HIV and AIDS, and to alleviate the suffering of the infected and affected
HIV and AIDS continues to be a very challenging and risky situation.
We believe that if we continue using Jesus Christ’s method, we can be assured that our churches will help create meaningful relationships with neighboring communities, and a more effective level of understanding and prevention of HIV and AIDS will be reached.
We also believe that there is a great need for consolidating what AAIM has achieved so far, and based on that platform, to reinforce our Church’s commitment to not just be observers, but active participants in the international fight against the HIV epidemic. Only at that point, will our church be perceived as a caring and compassionate church!
As a church, we need to increase our participation in the community, and provide more services, and create more opportunities for our church members to get involved in social service and support.
Regarding HIV and AIDS, our church has now the experience, and the presence in many countries. The authorities in those countries know that our church is committed and willing to help reduce the HIV prevalence and the impact of this epidemic. We need to reaffirm all the efforts done, and take it to the next level, where this ministry of compassion will be an integrated part of our daily church life.
Eleven years ago, in 2004, the Adventist AIDS International Ministry was just starting to take shape. Many did not believe it was going to survive its early stages.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all those who directly and indirectly have helped this ministry, and very especially Church Officers, Departmental Directors and Staff, that made of this ministry a model in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
We want to especially remember and pray for the People Infected and Affected by the HIV epidemic, who are the reason and source of motivation for this ministry.
We have lived with this epidemic for more than 30 years. We have seen the devastating effects of this disease, the increased number of deaths, the reduction of the life span, entire families destroyed, the widows and orphans, we have experienced support and indifference, and still today we find discrimination in our churches.
Today is a great opportunity to reflect upon the past 5 years, and strengthen our commitment and compassion toward those in need.
Jesus Christ has been our inspiration and guide all these years. He ministered to the outcasts, the neglected and the stigmatized. He touched them, He healed them, He loved them.
All these years we have learned to do this and experienced a wonderful spiritual journey with God.
Today, we thank and praise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His many blessings and unconditional Love!
Thank you very much!
God bless you all!
Previous Reviews: Ten Years of the Adventist AIDS International Ministry