Zimbabwe (MNN) — We all know that HIV and AIDS are enormous problems facing the world today, but it's hard to know what to do about it. Africa bears the majority of the burden, but how can far away non-Africans help?
A project birthed out of The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) is helping to bridge that gap of problem and action: the "Anesu" project.
"The issue of HIV and AIDS in southern Africa is profoundly serious," says Anesu's founder Bud Jackson. "Ten percent of the world's population is bearing roughly 70% of the burden of global HIV and AIDS."
And yet, Jackson admits, it's difficult for the church elsewhere to get involved. For one, it's hard to know how. For another, missions can so easily be focused on conversion that it's easy to forget about compassion.
"Balancing the theology of conversion with the theology of compassion, [Anesu is] driven to connecting churches in North America with the church in Zimbabwe in its response to people infected, affected, and at risk by HIV," says Jackson.
Essentially, Anesu is empowering Zimbabwean churches to respond to HIV/AIDS prevention and care through the partnership and support of North American churches.
It's a two-sided partnership. Zimbabwean churches are helped, and North American churches are able to serve and be genuinely involved. "We actually position ourselves…to be a bridge that connects churches in North America with the church across Zimbabwe in a way that allows the churches in North America to find point of entry for meaningful engagement right alongside the churches in Zimbabwe."
Through Anesu, Zimbabwean churches are able to respond medically to the HIV/AIDS crisis through partnerships with other organizations. As the church reaches out directly to serve and care for individuals in the community with HIV and AIDS, not only is the Gospel shared, but there is a relational response to those suffering from the disease and its stigma.
That ensured contact is actually pretty rare, says Jackson. "We're talking about a nation here, or a part of a continent, that has received billions and billions of dollars–most of which have gone right down the drain–in the name of aid. And it's being sent by very well-meaning and compassionate people who have no idea that what they're giving and what they're sending is just not finding the point of application."
Partnerships through Anesu provide the security that money will not be wasted because efforts are being led and allocated by the local church.
Anesu is a young project–it only really got into motion in January of 2011. But it's already expanding. If your church might want to be a part of this special partnership, watch this video to learn more. Then contact Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.