USA (MNN) — While the United Nations has lowered its estimated number of worldwide AIDS infections, Christians aren't reducing efforts to combat the deadly disease. As World AIDS Day approaches Saturday, missionary radio is increasingly placing a higher emphasis on outreach to those infected, dying and at risk of HIV/AIDS infection.
Trans World Radio is just one organization that's made HIV/AIDS a top priority for their ministry. TWR's Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS Ministry Initiatives is Tom Watkins. Watkins says TWR has a global strategic plan, which includes five key program areas. "HIV/AIDS health issues type ministry is one of those tracks. The others are children and youth, women, church and leadership development, morality, and there's a lot of crossover in those areas."
Today the U.N. estimates that there are 33-million people with AIDS around the world, down from their previous estimate of 40-million.
"But it's still obviously a huge, huge problem," says Watkins. "Some people refer to it as a tsunami every month. The tsunami several years ago claimed about 200,000 lives, and that many people die around the world every single month of HIV/AIDS."
TWR bagan addressing the issue in 1986. They started with a program called "Africa Challenge." They expanded that into the AIDS Challenge and "The Honey That Kills." Now, Watkins says, "We have a new radio drama program called 'Magogo's Village.' We piloted it in Mozambique and are looking at several other countries for that. It's very highly energized, dynamic, dramatic radio program targeting youth. "
Since oral learning is common, this type of programming is very effective in communicating HIV/AIDS prevention, but Watkins says there's more to that message. "The Gospel message is very much central to that. And in fact, the 'Magogo's Village' program is a character education-based approach to abstinence and uses Jesus Christ as the ultimate role model for character."
Watkins is asking for prayer that TWR will have wisdom in how they address the HIV/AIDS issue around the world. Funding is also a need. However, he says Africa isn't their only concern. "I think a huge prayer request is what's going to happen in India, China and Russia because the reality is that now HIV is the fastest-growing disease in those three enormous countries."