International (MNN) — Although progress has been made in the fight against it, over 33 million people are still living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The devastating disease haunts people from all different cultures, educational backgrounds, ages, and moral standings.
Countless groups and organizations have made efforts to combat the disease and prevent it, all using a complete spectrum of techniques and tactics. Some educate people on the disease, some teach vocational skills to increase self-worth. The list is endless.
One ministry has chosen their method of prevention based on the credibility of one main ingredient: the Gospel.
Sues Hess, Director of Outreach at Biblica, says their Reach 4 Life preventative program integrates a 40-step program right into a copy of the New Testament. The Reach 4 Life program is designed with the idea in mind that true moves toward abstinence are only likely to hold if the Holy Spirit is involved.
"It's in accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior that you are then empowered by the Holy Spirit to go ahead and learn about Christ, understand the basics of the faith, and begin to develop a biblical worldview," explains Hess. "That will affect how you handle your sexuality as well."
Hence, the integration of God's living Word. Of course, teaching the Gospel is not the only method used by Reach 4 Life. As the ministry educates teens and preteens in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Guatemala, India, and Thailand, they always expect that small groups will arise to create accountability to abstinence.
"We use those two methods: Number one, leading a person to faith in Christ, then having the Holy Spirit within them–that will help them. Number two, that peer accountability group is the living expression of holding them accountable," summarizes Hess.
Although the approach to the program may differ slightly from culture to culture, the basic principles of abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it hold the spotlight in any nation Reach 4 Life enters.
The message is so important that even secular organizations have recognized its worth. Several governments provide the necessary funding for Reach 4 Life to enter into public schools and educate students with their resources. Youth groups across the globe also use the training.
Through this innovative program, Biblica is able to provide true teaching about the spread of HIV/AIDS to communities where most kids are AIDS orphans, and to communities where only one of 100 has encountered the disease. Regardless of where they are, the true excitement comes with the open opportunity to put a pocket-sized New Testament in the hands of every student the ministry encounters.