Zambia (MNN) — The HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit the African country of Zambia hard. While the situation may be a little better in recent months, it's still a major issue. However, Christians are now taking on a more active role in assisting.
World Hope International's Jeff Johnson tells us how the HIV/AIDS problem is affecting that nation. "Currently there are over 800,000 orphans from AIDS that are existing in that country. There have been close to over 400,000 deaths in the last few years."
This puts stress on everyday life, says Johnson. "Every day four school teachers die of AIDS. Every day two police officers die of AIDS."
However, Johnson says the statistics are actually getting a little better. "The latest findings that have come out from UN AIDS have shown that the rate of deaths are beginning to level out, but there's still a lot of work to do."
Johnson says U.S. government's faith-based initiative dollars are allowing more Christians to help. World Hope uses those dollars as match money because the dollars can't be used in evangelism. "When we're able to generate funds privately, we can match that with faith based money, and the faith money can go to funding the practical, humanitarian needs, allowing us to use our private resources to bring in a message of the Gospel."
World Hope International has started a community orphan trust. "This is a church based initiative. The church is the focal point of every village. Within this community trust, we organize volunteers within a local church who provide support to orphans and vulnerable children."
This is done by establishing livelihood projects like gardens, animal multiplication and vocational projects for the caregivers. "The income and the money they're generating through those projects then are turned into every day provisions like food, clothing, blanks, health care school supplies for the children," he adds.
Volunteers are also trained to go out and visit those who are sick and dying of AIDS. "To deal with issues of pain management and provide pastoral care and encouragement. God is working through those visitations. Routinely we're seeing volunteers from these trusts leading HIV-positive patients to Christ," says Johnson.
According to Johnson, pastors are beginning to preach messages about HIV/AIDS. "The answer to the AIDS crisis is Jesus Christ, and it's a message that's resonating with the people in these villages. They're looking for hope. AIDS has robbed people of hope for a future."
Your help is needed. Johnson says, "Our work has expanded into about 60 villages within Zambia, caring for about 10,000 kids. We've got a plan to move into 20 to 25 more villages this year."
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