Let me explain what we are planning and praying about as our part to in responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. The closest "township" to us is just a two minute drive away - this is where we will train workers for planting churches in Africa and learning to work in the African context. It is called Massiphumelele. There are about 20,000 residents. 27% of the people are HIV positive, the highest rates of HIV of any community in this region of South Africa. Most of the people in Massiphumelele live in very small tin shacks.
One of the greatest challenges facing young people here in South Africa is hopelessness. There are three things that cause hopelessness in Africa: disease, poverty and not knowing Jesus. One teenage girl from the township, age 14, told a local pastor this story when he asked her how she felt about being pregnant at the age of 14. She told him she looked around at other peoples lives and saw that the only work available was being a servant to a white family. She had no hope of not living in a tin shack or to escape the poverty. She said she didn't want to spend the rest of her life being a domestic worker earning menial wages (being a servant for a white family). She heard that sex made you feel good, so she decided she would have all the sex she could, then get AIDS, with the "hope" she would die before she was 20. Why? So she wouldn't have to live in a tin shack and work as a domestic worker all her life.
I am deeply passionate about responding to this type of poverty, disease and hopelessness. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by it, but we must respond. We know it is what Jesus would do if he was here.
We are developing a sustainable model for responding to the AIDS crisis. We run a baby house for AIDS orphans in Mozambique, and are planning on starting a second house in '07. We have decided not to multiply an indefinite number of baby houses, even though they have an important role in helping in crisis situations where a baby will probably die if we don't take in the baby.
What we are going to do in the future is identify the African "grannies" who are the care-givers for AIDS orphans in the villages and townships of Africa, and work with them. When the parents die, the "grannies" are the ones who end up caring for the babies and children, often their own grandchildren. We will come along beside them and train them about HIV/AIDS, how and why it is important to give the ARV drugs (ARV's = anti-retro-viral drugs), make sure they have access to the drugs, provide them with food to feed the babies and children, and then work with the village and community leaders as they help the grannies. We have plans to develop a micro-lending bank and start small businesses to create jobs as well. Three young entrepreneurs who volunteer with us are giving the next ten years to develop small business models to under gird this strategy.
A key to sustain this strategy is to start small, simple churches beside the grannies to support them and carry on the care our full time workers will give. In this way we will be working with African social structures that are already in place, instead of creating Western models that are dependent on outside money and finance, like big orphanages.
The greatest need to implement this strategy is for dedicated workers and finances to start things rolling. Please pray with us as we seek to put this strategy into practice. Perhaps you would like to help?