Sub-Saharan Africa (MNN) ― Mention HIV/AIDS, and people can tend to tune out. But for several families in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS isn’t just a distant disease.
It’s in their home.
2.5 million people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every year. Most of them are children. 97% of HIV/AIDS victims live in impoverished areas of the world.
Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response (BGR) says caring for people with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa is vastly different from first world countries. “Here in the United States, when people have a long-term illness there are ways they can be cared for by hospitals and hospice. But most places of the world, especially in rural poor areas, there’s nothing like that. People go home to a village and die–maybe lay on a dirt floor, or maybe cared by the family.”
With 2 million people dying each year to HIV/AIDS, there’s a sense of urgency for ministry. For “a lot of people, this is the last chance they will have to hear the Gospel and respond, and have a chance at eternal life,” says Palmer.
BGR sees a desperate need for quality care and the Gospel for HIV/AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s why they have the Bucket Project putting together hospice kits.
Churches and organizations can pack a 5-gallon bucket with things like plastic gloves for caregivers, vitamins, changing pads, and bed sheets. These buckets are sent to BGR national partners in Sub-Saharan Africa. The partners take the buckets into homes and show the families how to care for their loved one with HIV/AIDS.
Palmer explains, “[It’s] basically a hygiene kit to help the caregivers who are going to take care of those who are dying at home, to die in a way that gives them some dignity and show that somebody in the world cares for them.”
BGR’s goal for this year is to send 10,000 buckets to Sub-Saharan Africa. So far, they only have between 1,500-2,000 buckets.
Palmer explains how your church can get involved. “We ask the churches who pack the buckets here in the states: as you pack it and close that bucket, you pray over it for the person who is going to receive it…. Then, when that bucket gets there, a caregiver who is a believer…[will] share with the family, saying, ‘This bucket was packed for you by a group of Christians in the United States and they wanted to demonstrate God’s love for you.’ Then they pray over it and open it up.”
“At that point it opens up all kinds of ways for witnessing that can share the love of God, the compassion of Christ to bless them. Many times the eyes will light up. I saw one young man who received his bucket, and the mother who was caring for him: it was just like, ‘You mean somebody in the world cared for me?’ I said, ‘Yeah, they care for you because God loves you, and we want to bless you with this gift.’”
It’s proven an exciting project for churches and organizations to get involved in, says Palmer. “It gives them something hands-on to do, and it gets them excited. It raises awareness of what’s happening around the world.”
“We ask people to pray that God would lead us to a cure of HIV/AIDS. It’s a terrible disease. [We pray for] a cure that we can use also to make His name known among the nations. Pray also for those who are suffering that we could reach them in time…. Pray for our caregivers all around Sub-Saharan Africa that are going out. You can imagine an emotional thing to walk into a home and to minister to a family that is losing their loved one. Pray for strength and wisdom and knowledge and words of life.”