• What’s Faith Got To Do With It?
    March 7, 2011
    A Global MULTIFAITH discussion on HIV responses Foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M Tutu. DOWNLOAD THE BOOK HERE “I send my warm greetings and the assurance of my prayers to the readers, authors and the INERELA+ CUAHA partnership for their tireless efforts in responding to HIV and AIDS. As faith leaders and communities of faith, we are called upon to be present and to be known to be present where there is suffering, pain and despair. AIDS is not something that happens outside of the church, mosque or temple and even our homes. Too many stories and statistics on the epidemic’s spread and its impact demonstrate that everyone is affected by HIV and AIDS. While faith based communities have been at the forefront of caring for people affected by HIV, we need to challenge ourselves further. For over two decades AIDS has led to the deaths of millions of people and devasted families, communities, and the social and economic fabric of many countries. Today we know how to treat HIV and AIDS and how to prevent the transmission of HIV. And yet the virus continues to spread because so many of us don’t talk about it. Faith based communities have a crucial role and opportunity to help their communities address not just the physical impact of HIV and AIDS on individuals and communities but also the underlying personal, social, economic and cultural injustices that are exposed through this disease. There can be no doubt that faith communities, through various projects across the globe, are effectively contributing towards the eradication of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The stories and articles in this book are both inspiring and challenging all of us to respond to HIV. They challenge faith communities in our reticence to talk about and address sex and sexuality. Our silence serves only to increase risk and vulnerability needlessly. I hope and believe that this book will play a critical role in helping to re-energize, focus and challenge all faith community members to continue to respond to the devastating pandemic of HIV and AIDS. Faith communities need to provide leadership to overcome HIV and AIDS, and recognize people living with HIV as precious members of the community. It is time for faith based organisations and communities to lead in promoting life, by providing comprehensive and evidence-based information on preventing transmission of HIV. In addition, women and girls should be guaranteed access to sexual and reproductive health care and be able to exercise their basic human rights. This book is an inspiration to faith based organisations who are living their faith in this world, and not just the next. Read it and your hopes will rise. God is responding to HIV and AIDS. I pray that  all those who will read this book will be guided by the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love and to pour balm on wounds – and that the stories in this book will bring hope and healing to a broken world. God bless you.” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M Tutu INERELA+ Patron
  • Pastoral care of people living with HIV in Zambia By Rev. Kennedy Chola Mulenga
    September 10, 2010
    PASTORAL CARE OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV IN ZAMBIA BY REV. KENNEDY CHOLA MULENGA 1. Introduction Van Dyk in her book, HIVAids Care & Counseling: A Multidisciplinary Approach, sagaciously asserts, “HIVAids (sic) has forced us to think of caring rather than curing….Because we have no cure for HIVAids (sic), we must focus on caring for the psychological and mental welfare of people living with HIVAids (sic)” (2005:174 emphasis hers). It is my humble intention, therefore, to look at the care of people living with HIV and AIDS in Zambia from an evangelical standpoint. Evangelical Christians in Zambian have ample endowments (e.g. human resource, presence, a message of hope, etc.) to give meaningful pastoral care to people living with HIV without the blight of stigma as they have been known to do in past times. This paper will describe pastoral care, posit an interdisciplinary perspective to pastoral care, highlight the role of psychology in pastoral care, locate the place of spirituality as a unique contribution of pastoral care, and recommend a feasible evangelical pastoral approach to HIV and AIDS care. In short, this paper will posit an approach to pastoral care of people living with HIV that will both be evangelical and germane to a Zambian worldview. 2.0 An Interdisciplinary Perspective to Pastoral Care As a point of departure I will discuss the concept of pastoral care from an interdisciplinary standpoint. What precisely is pastoral care with specific reference to people living with HIV? 2.1 The Scope of Pastoral Care Maldonado (1990:17) makes a pithy distinction between the ideas of pastoral care and pastoral counselling with HIV and AIDS affected persons. He notes that pastoral care is like a larger “umbrella that encompasses all the actions that the church is called to undertake in relation to the physical, spiritual, economic, social and even political needs of those who are affected by the virus.” He clarifies that pastoral counselling is a component of the same umbrella, which is a sort of focused type of action. He views counselling in this sense as a temporary helping relationship between a pastoral counsellor and counsellee(s) seeking help. Pastoral care, according to Gerkin, is the “caring task of the pastor in relation to individuals and communities” (1997:11). “Communities” in this usage allude to families living together, especially communities of faith, who have a common fellowship and want to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in the world. Gerkin (1997:19) further asserts that pastoral care has “application to the broadest range of pastoral and communal practices in the life of the church and the world.” Gerkin’s view of pastoral care is not limited to person to person encounters only, but is also applicable to caring for the church family and its community, the ‘environment’ of the community of faith. Pastoral care to the ‘environment’ of the community of faith entails the fulfilment of the church’s evangelistic task to the world at large (Gerkin 1997). Thus the terms “pastoral care” and “pastoral counselling” are often used interchangeably, although a distinction can be ...
  • How do we provide care within our faith in the field of HIV and AIDS? – By BY Merab Kambamu Kiremire
    September 10, 2010
    A PERSONAL LIFE EXPERIENCE BY MERAB KAMBAMU KIREMIRE Theme: (But the teacher of the law ——— asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbour?’ And Jesus concluded, ‘in your opinion, which one of the three men acted like a neighbor towards the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the law answered, ‘the one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same’) Luke 1029. Key words: At individual level – Burn-out, stigma, determination, perseverance, endurance, faith, hope, survival At a broader level – HIV and AIDS, support services, Care-giving, Faith Communities Background – For over a decade, between 1996 and 2006, I spent over 6 years living in a house all by myself.After teaching at the same University for close to a quarter of a century, my husband had decided to change jobs in order to advance his scientific research interest at a time when I was still heavily engaged in operationalizing an HIV and AIDS focused community-based organization (CBO) I had initiated a couple of years earlier and was therefore not in a position to leave it.This career move also happened to coincide with other life-changing events in our lives.Apart from endless struggles against perpetual xenophobia to stop me from running a CBO and the empty-nest syndrome which had, for sometime been slowly been knocking on our door, back in my country of birth, death had decided to aggressively hit my family, taking my three younger sisters, my mother and a well loved six-year-old niece one after another.This complex combination of situation culminated in a cumulative high degree of insecurity that put my nerves on the alert 24 hours a day.If not for bad news that could reach me any moment, fear of possible physical danger became part of my daily living.So as a safety measure, I developed a habit of always resting or sleeping with my lights on and my cell phone right under my pillow whether in a couch or bed. This state of affairs went on until 2006 when I finally felt my CBO was strong enough to endure my absence and joined my husband. However, as the old adage goes, habits die hard.To this day, I still rest or sleep with my lights on and my cell phone right under my pillow. Case Study – It was against this background that one late night in October 2009 my cell phone rang.As I pulled the phone from underneath my pillow to answer, I was sure that all was not well.Experience had long taught me that a telephone call at 0230 hours in the dead of the night could hardly be a carrier of good news. The only question was what type of bad news? Amidst sobs, the breaking voice at the end of the international waves sounded dreadfully faint, close to a whisper: ‘Good bye, your niece will tell you the rest’, as the phone cut off. With trembling hands, I quickly dialed my ailing sister’s husband telephone number.He promptly answered.The gentleman sounded so ...
  • Centering the body, HIV & AIDS Theology By Prof. M. Dube
    July 16, 2010
    CENTERING THE BODY IN OUR HIV AND AIDS RESPONSE: ON BEING JUSTICE-LOVING EARTH COMMUNITIES BY PROF. MUSA W. DUBE Musa W. Dube University of Botswana Theology and Religious Studies dubemw bw Introduction: HIV and AIDS as a Revelatory Journey Three decades of living with HIV and AIDS in our world has been a journey of revelation, self-understanding and re-awakening to our membership in the earth community. As I wrote elsewhere, “The onslaught of HIV/AIDS is an apocalyptic event which reveals starkly the existing social evils and the most terrible forms of suffering. As an apocalyptic event, however, HIV/AIDS also underlines the urgent need for transformation and justice in the society and the lives of individuals” (Dube 2003: vii). When the HI virus was first scientifically discovered in 1981, we responded to it medically, taking care to ensure that we use disposal injections and ensuring that all blood transfusions are thoroughly checked before being used. Quite quickly, it became evident that HIV and AIDS is not just a medical issue, but was everybody’s business as well (vii). A multi-sectoral approach was thus introduced, which encouraged all sectors and departments, individuals and families, communities and nations, countries and continents to mainstream HIV and AIDS prevention, care and mitigation of impact in their core business. For example, if you were an educator you were to think of ways of mainstreaming HIV prevention, care and mitigation of impact in your curriculum as well as designing HIV specific projects and programmess. If you were a church member or leader, you were to think of ways of including HIV concerns in your worship, sermons, prayers, teaching, projects, programmes and among all the various departments such youth, women, Sunday school and men’s sector. In short, each department was to utilize its own particular business and resources for an effective HIV and AIDS response. The journey with HIV and AIDS had revealed to us that HIV and AIDS is not just a medical issue, rather it is everybody’s business. It was the second stage that began to focus its attention on behavioral change as the popular formula slogan “ABC” (abstain, be faithful and condomise) was thoroughly advertised through print media, radio, TV and community gatherings such as church, workshops and public meetings. Moreover, this approach encouraged care giving to those amongst us who were already-living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, such as orphans. This approach firmly recognized each individual as possessing the power and the capacity to stop the spread of HIV by either abstaining from all sexual practices if not married; being faithful to one’s partner if married or in a relationship; practicing protected sex if one is sexually involved, either unmarried or married and, lastly, giving care to those of us affected by HIV. This strategy promised us much for it underlined that we individually possess the power to significantly stop the spread of HIV in our lives and to mitigate its impact by giving care to those amongst us living ...
  • Faith based approach to HIV response: Perspectives of a Muslim
    July 16, 2010
    BY AHMED RAGAA ABDEL-HAMEED RAGAB, MD; PHD PROFESSOR OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY, CAIRO EGYPT Introduction The HIV epidemic has been spreading steadily that is now, no country in the world is immune. The number of people living with HIV continues to rise every year (Haleprin et al, 2004). With the wide spread of HIV, faith based approach became an important part of HIV and AIDS Prevention. The word of religion has its effect within souls, and Religious Leaders possess a degree and have an effect on peoples’ hearts, thus their role would be significant and effective in HIV and AIDS prevention and care programs. Religious leaders are the gate keepers for many social and cultural issues. The role of religious leaders in Islam is not restricted to calling for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimage and other religious commandments and juristic regulations; but this role extends to include inviting people for various medical, social, cultural and religious fields of life (Omran, 1992). In recognition of the role of religious leaders, bringing them to the field of HIV and AIDS and networking with them and using the faith based approach; the efforts to tackle the problem would be more effective. HIV and AIDS in the Middle East and North of Africa Countries in the Middle East and north of Africa region share certain characteristics that shape the sexual and reproductive behaviour of adolescents despite their geographical spread and diverse politics (De Jong et al, 2007). As these populations are predominantly Muslim, Islam has a great influence on sexual and reproductive health behaviour. The region faces many challenges: strong taboos attached to HIV and AIDS make it harder to measure the scope of the problem and plan accordingly. Extreme stigma not only marginalizes people living with HIV, but also inhibits people from going for testing. People living with HIV are commonly expelled from their homes, are sometimes fired from their jobs and even have trouble in getting medical care for fear of infection by health professionals (Ragab and Mahmod, 2006; Obermyer, 2006; Jenkins and Robalino, 2003).. In early phases of the epidemic, obedience to Islamic teachings was thought to offer the best protection (Ragab and Mahmoud, 2006, Kandella, 1993). Denial characterized the early phases, especially among the policy makers and the community leaders (Ragab and Mahmoud, 2006, Kandella, 1993) HIV was presented as a disease brought from countries where sexual morals were decadent (Ragab and Mahmoud, 2006, Kandella, 1993). Estimates of WHO and UNAIDS show that HIV Prevalence is low (0.2%) in the region (UNAIDS, 2006). It has been hypothesized that the low prevalence of HIV in the region is somewhat linked to Islam and its influence on the behaviours that affect transmission (Obermyer, 2006). Gray (2004) says comparative analysis of data from African countries showed that the prevalence of HIV was negatively associated with the percentage of the population that is Muslim. However, Gray’s study affirmed that the link between being Muslim and sexual risk factors is ambiguous and variable. Currently, all countries of the region ...
  • Demythologizing human sexuality in Africa. By Prof. James N. Amanze
    July 16, 2010
    Demythologizing African conceptions of human sexuality: A gateway to prevention and eradication of HIV and AIDS in Africa. Prof. James N. Amanze, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Botswana, Private Bag 0022, Gaborone. 1. Introduction It is common knowledge that sex and human sexuality in Africa is shrouded in myth. This makes the prevention and eradication of the HIV and AIDS pandemic very difficult. The mythological aspects of human sexuality in Africa is seen in the fact that it is not a subject for a frank and open discussion between parents and their children. When discussions on sex and human sexuality are held among adults, the language used is mythological. It is intended to hide the true meaning of what is being discussed. Such mythological language is difficult to decode unless one has been initiated at an initiation school. Since not everyone goes through an initiation schools in modern times, there is a vacuum in terms of understanding on sexual matters between the old and the new dispensation. In this paper it is argued that, as a result of the devastating effects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, whose spread is mainly through sexual intercourse, there is an urgent need to decode the language people use when discussing issues of a sexual nature. This will help the youth to get a clear message on HIV and AIDS that can lead to behaviour change. 2. Theoretical framework: Bultmann’s theory of demythologization In writing this paper, the author shall use Rudolf Bultmann’s theory of demythologisation, as he applied it to Biblical interpretation. In this study the term demythologisation will mean the elimination of euphemistic language in sexual discourse and its replacement with scientific language or “straight talk”, which can be understood by the modern generation of Africans. It is contended in this paper that the language used in everyday discussions by Africans on matters pertaining to sex and sexuality blurs the message to such an extent that it does not reach its intended recipients. This denies them the opportunity to make informed decisions pertaining to their sexual life, which can enable them to avoid falling prey of the dreaded consequences of the HIV and AIDS pandemic and enjoy good health. According to John Macquarrie, the method of demythologizing, as developed by Rudolf Bultmann, is not intended to eliminate the mythological statements found in the Bible but to interpret them. It is a method of hermeneutics. The primary purpose of demythologizing the Biblical message, we are told, is to unravel the message that is enshrouded in the myth in order to bring out the kerygma (message) hidden in the biblical text. Such a message (kerygma) can challenge the reader to make decisions pertaining to his/her own existence. The decision can be either to follow the way of Christ which leads to salvation or the way of reckless living which leads to perdition. In this paper we argue that, as regards the language of sex and sexuality in African cultures, ...
  • How Faith Compels Religious Leaders and their Faith Communities – Rev Veikko Munyika
    July 16, 2010
    At the outset this paper is about theological practices inspired by faith on matters such as HIV and AIDS. Today Christian mission and ministry are challenged how to preach the Word of God to people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS and how Christian ministry is administered in times of HIV and AIDS. Therefore in this paper I shall concentrate on how our faith compels us to be engaged in the ministries of HIV and AIDS. I shall now address various aspects from biblical, theological, pastoral, and ethical perspectives. Faith and its response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic As Christians or people of the Bible we are not ashamed of the word of God or the Gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). It is our food (Rev 10:8ff) and the power of God to save all who believe (Rom.1:16). In his Word, God addresses us and communicates the good news to us. He reveals his nature, attitude towards us, his intentions and actions past, present and future. The Word of God therefore, comes to us as a living voice of the gospel. The Gospel is the primary source of the word of God and is contained in the Bible. But we also know that God comes to us in other different forms such as in sermons, music, liturgy, prayers, poems, films, movies, and the mass-media. Whatever form it takes though, the Word of God serves as a means or vehicle bringing God to us. God does not only speak to us, but we actually meet him in his Word. To put it differently, the content of the Word of God is the living Gospel, the good news. It is “good news” because it teaches us that (i) God is the Creator who is present and charge of the whole reality and that (ii) this God is for us (Rom. 8:31). Although this is just a promise, the Word of God teaches us that this promise is true and should be trusted and accepted! Although this promise can shape our lives right here and now, most of it points to the future and remains in the process of being realized. To say that the Word of God is a living voice is to suggest that when we hear and receive it the Word makes an impact on us, causing us to respond. Such a response to the Word of God is called faith. For the Triune God in Jesus Christ to come into the situation of sinful human beings is, indeed grace, it is good news. For human beings to accept God in his Word is an act of faith. Faith is the means by which we acquire salvation. And Lutherans are well known for their emphasis on the view that salvation is received by grace alone through faith alone. The interdependence of grace and faith may thus be expressed this way: grace creates faith, faith accepts grace. In short, faith is a trust in God’s promises, a commitment to clink ...
  • Does “God still hate fags”? By Rev. Hannu Happonen
    July 16, 2010
    By Rev. Hannu Happonen Introduction One day I was on Google trying to get some ideas on what I could use as an image for a Power Point presentation on God. When I typed in “God” one of the first images that came up was of a protesting man with a sign “God still hates fags.” The image began to haunt me and I started to think: “does God still hate fags?” Many people have a difficult time understanding those who are attracted to people of the same sex. They are “wired” differently; their “computer” has contradictory software loaded in. We have a fear of what we do not understand, what we cannot comprehend. It can lead to discrimination against others of a different sexual orientation. Some may think that if we show sympathy for “sinners” or stand beside them, our actions show that we are condoning the sin. A person may see homosexuality as an abomination, a perversion, a sin. However, Jesus associated with marginalized people: the sinners, tax collectors, drunkards, women, lepers, prostitutes, Samaritans, and children. I believe that today Jesus would be there where the gay community is. He set us an example that we should follow (Jn 13.15). We need to treat marginalized people the same way he did. God treats the “righteous” and “unrighteous” equally, setting us an example to follow. Even if a Christian may see homosexuality as “sin,” the question we should ask is “how should we treat sinners?” God loves everyone regardless of what they do or do not do. It is not based on our works, nor is it based on sexual orientation. This is the very love that Christians need to reflect. The issue is quite divisive and will split denominations, churches and Christians. This article will not debate whether homosexuality is right or wrong. I will attempt to look at its relationship to HIV and AIDS and what the response of the church should be. There are issues that can unite Christians when discussing HIV and AIDS. Definitions Sexual orientation refers to the sexual and emotional attraction based on the gender of one’s partner. Heterosexuality refers a person who is sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex. Homosexuality refers to a person (usually a man) who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex. This is distinct from homosexual behaviour. Behaviour has to do with what a person actually does – what the attraction leads a person to do. Today the term “men who have sex with men” is commonly used to describe a behavioral phenomenon rather than a specific group of people. It includes people who call themselves gay (or homosexual) as well as those who are bisexual (those who are sexually attracted to both men and women). It further includes those who engage in male–male sex but identify themselves as heterosexual as well as transgendered males. There are also men who have sex with men but are married to a woman, have a family and do ...
  • Testamony of Evang. Chinedu Puis E.
    March 12, 2010
    I first noticed the sign of HIV in my life during my last semester examination at West African Bible Collage Lagos in 2001. Then there was development of Lymph nodes in my face and neck regions. But, due to lack of proper information regarding HIV/AIDS then I was in dark about the whole thing. At the end of 2001 precisely between Nov – Dec 2001 I fall seriously ill, the hospital my brothers took me  for medical attention rejected me, advising that its better for them to take me to village they were told that it better for me to die in the village  than in Lagos which will be double expenses to bear. It was at this critical condition that my junior brother hired a car to take me and my family town in Anambra state. At the village there was lots of confusion when we arrive because, most people don’t know the cause and type of illness that befall me, many attributed it to witchcraft, juju, poison, I was left to die slowly at home. But thank God, because He has lots of plan for me, I was first taken to the greatest traditional healer in my town, but after his examinations he told my people that the so called poison have eaten deep into my liver and lungs, he told them that I will drop dead if he administer any concoctions, he then suggested that I be taken home and placed on blood building and nutrient to gain strength before they will bring me back. It was during this period of waiting hopelessly, that my mother in-law suggested to my mother that she will not relent in her effort in seeking solution from my source. At this stage a family friend suggested that I be taken to mile 4 hospital Abakaliki a specialist hospital for treatment of TB in Ebonyi State, because than I was coughing non-stop with blood laced sputum and also having uncontrollable diarrhea. At Abakaliki after many test the Doctor in charge confirmed that its not TB, but one strange thing he discovered after extracting  5ml string full of purse was that I have lots of purse occupying my chest region and lungs which will need an operation to remove, he then gave us referral to NAUTH Nnewi. At NAUTH on admission an operation was carried out by group of doctors and a pipe was inserted through my lungs and almost a bucket full of purse was extracted from my chest region.  Series of test was carried out which I was on a hospital bed. It was at this hopeless condition I first learnt that I did not only have HIV & 1 & II but TB as well. My first initial re-action with this news was that what will be the faith of my wife and only daughter as at that time. But thank God He chose for me a loving and caring wife who stood by me throughout this period of trials despite the fact that she tested negative.. Now we ...
  • Testimony of Rev Engr. Isaiah Arinze – A Cleric of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria
    March 12, 2010
    My name is Rev Engr. Arinze Isaiah, a native of Anambra State. I am an ordained priest according to the Anglican Communion doctrine. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a husband and father to a 1year old son. I was the first Anglican priest to declare my HIV positive status and since then I have had lots of trouble and have lost everything. Due to the frustrating seclusion form some of the clerical duties I used to perform in my parish by my superiors, and at the end they refused me from getting married and threw me out of the Archdeaconry that I was serving under. As a qualified engineer, I got a job with a construction company and they also through their numerous pre-employment medical tests knew of my HIV status and threw me out later. As the only son of my parents who is being looked upon to step into the shoes of my dead father according to the Igbo tradition, my family members reaction to knowing my status was rejection to allow me suffer the recompense of my sin. So, I decided to commit suicide as the only means of denying myself the misery of what am going through in life. I got all my certificates and valuables and burnt all of them . During this period in the hospital, I had a new revelation about the new phase of life from God. He said that this is my new ministry and calling to reach out to PLWHAs who have are going the same predicament and help fight their cause. I have since been committed to the calling for the past 6years and God has touched many through my Ministry. I have been exposed to the various phases that were different from my own the course of interaction with fellow PLWHAs and one that struck me was the vindictive tendencies of wanting to strike back at the society as result of the rejection, stigma and discrimination that these persons pass through. In a blink of an eye they lose their means of earning, trust of the community and love from loved ones; with this they are left with little opportunity but to excuse themselves from public life and decision taken at that point is in most times detrimental to the society, response and the individual. Today, I am blessed to be married to woman who is HIV negative and a son that is also HIV negative. These were possible because of my early exposure to seek for information about my condition in the hands of those who can provide them. My joining NINERELA+ has further broadened my views about creating sustainable interventions that are faith based ...