South Africa (MNN) — As South
Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup, medical experts warn about the need
to protect visiting fans from HIV/AIDS. Although reports say the country's epidemic is stabilizing, South Africa
still has the largest number of HIV infections in the world.
The virus has the worst impact in
the communities around South Africa's platinum mines and diamond mines. Rob Hoskins with OneHope recently visited the
area to work on implementing a biblically-based prevention program in the
"The teachers said half of their
students in that particular area with the platinum mines are orphans at
this point," Hoskins said. "So we're
stilling living with the incredible fallout of what happens around these mines
where there's a lot of prostitution, where men are away from home, and then the
whole community around these mines is being affected. So it's a devastating situation."
The program will focus
particularly on reaching kids in 4th through 6th grades, Hoskins said.
"We're seeing that the age of
sexual debut can be as young as 12 or 13 years old. So to come in with a teen program is
almost too late in these situations."
Hoskins said the church should
work to care for orphans and for people who already have HIV/AIDS, but the key
to solving the problem is going to be "new values." These values have to reach the kids before
they reach the age of sexual maturity. People
working in orphanages and medical care tell Hoskins that every child who makes
a wise decision is at least one less person the system will have to care
"That's really the only hope for
these communities," he explained. "We must start
with these kids at a very young age and teach them the principles that are
in God's Word so that they're able to live a different life and a different
reality than their parents and their grandparents."
To do this, OneHope provides
curriculum and training for teachers to teach abstinence and character
development from God's Word. Biblical
truth can transform the way kids think about their sexuality. Hoskins explained what the program teaches
"We say, 'You don't have to live as your
parents and grandparents did, where the decisions they've made cause so much
pain in this community.' We tell little
girls, 'You were created in the image of God, and you're valuable to Him and to your community; don't give your virginity away so
cheaply because you could be writing your own death sentence.' We tell young boys, 'Your manhood is not
contingent on the women you sleep with; in fact, really being a man means
waiting till marriage and abstaining.'"
OneHope researches the results of
its program, and the results are good.
"Behavior is driven by
beliefs and values," Hoskins said. "So
if you can plant the values and beliefs that are in God's Word into these young
minds and hearts, then when they come to a place where they're making decisions
about their sexuality…we're seeing that it is actually reducing the incidence
and prolonging the age of sexual debut, which is where we're going to see a
change in the HIV/AIDS problem."
The centerpiece of OneHope is the Book of Hope — a child's Scriptural harmony of the Gospels which tells the life story of Jesus. It only costs 33 cents to reach
one child with the Book of Hope.