Bleak news on the AIDS orphan front leads to strategic ministry in South Africa.

By October 28, 2003

South Africa (MNN)–News from the AIDS front in Africa is mixed these days.

From a medical journal trumpeting the peak of the AIDS epidemic, to the United Nations’ report of the residual pandemic faced by the surivors, the experts say the situation reaches nighmarish proportions.

AIDS could create a staggering 20 million orphans in Africa by 2010, with 11 million children already orphaned by the disease on the continent. That statistic sends a thrill of alarm among child welfare agencies.

However, Evangelical Baptist Mission’s Paul Jackson says they’re positioned strategically. “We’ve just received permission from the government to begin the actual phase of building for our Bethesda village, just north of Pretoria, South Africa. This is a major step for us. We’re now taking care of kids in homes surrounding the area; homes we’ve either purchased, or rented, or had been given use to use.”

Speaking to the severity of the problem faced by the areas with millions of AIDS orphans, Jackson says, “We’re talking about a country (South Africa) that is, right now, filled with chidlren, who literally have no one to care for them.”

An example comes from an area social worker who says the youngest child she has seen on the streets was 18 months old. When asked who cared for her, she replied, “The other children on the streets.” Despite reports that the AIDS epidemic may have reached its peak in 2002, the sad reality is, according to Jackson, the ‘now’ needs of the survivors.

Help is not long in coming, though. Jackson details their ministry aspects and prayer needs. “This is going to give us an opportunity to begin the process of bringing the kids into one place, and to be able to reach these kids. These children are incredibly needy. It’s a joy to be able to work with these kids, see them come to Christ, disciple them, and, at one point down the road, in their lives, to be able to release them back into their culture as servants of Christ.”

EBM says they’re looking for both prayer partners and financial partners for the Bethesda Outreach project.

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