Mozambique (MNN) — HIV/AIDS is running rampant across the African continent. Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74 percent of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa. 1.8 million of them live in Mozambique. That's a staggering number. Despite this, the church is reaching out and is growing.
Africa Inland Mission is helping the church, says missionary Bob Barnes, who's on home assignment after 20 years on the field. "Southern Africa, you might have heard, is sort of the epicenter of much of HIV/AIDS. In Mozambique, somewhere between 15 to 25 percent of the population is HIV positive."
Barnes says that cases he saw were horrific. "Frequently, men who had worked in South Africa would come back home sick. Some die within a few weeks. That means they don't contaminate anyone else. But many times they live six or eight months to a year, and two years later their wives start dying."
It's created more than a half-million AIDS orphans.
According to Barnes, the church is finally addressing the problem. "Like the church in the west, we often are not willing to admit that the problem is in the church as well. The statistics for AIDS are no different in the churches than they are for the general population. It's starting to force the church to look at the problem honestly."
In the last two years, Barnes says God accomplished much through them. "We were able to plant two small churches in a very rural area. Those churches are now dependent on the national church pastors to come and visit and train them up."
He's asking people to pray that God would use these churches to help change hearts in many unreached communities with the Gospel, which is the only way to stop the onslaught of HIV/AIDS in region.