South Africa (MNN) — The HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit Africa
hard and South Africa the hardest. At least 5.7 million of its citizens live
with HIV/AIDS–more than any other country.
The question is: how can this staggering number be combated in that region and around the world?
Colin Bishop of Biblica said for those seeking to address the HIV/AIDS issue, "There are two categories of the
fight: the one is taking care of people who are infected already. That means anti-retrovirals;
that means what some people regard as protection, which is condoms. And then
there's care: hospices, orphan care centers, and so on. But we are strictly into
prevention. We are targeting the uninfected, and we are trying to prevent them
from getting infected in the first place."
Biblica is reaching out to uninfected kids through their
Reach 4 Life program. They distribute New Testaments, hold Bibles studies and disciple students in
secondary schools across Africa, Latin America and Thailand.
The aim of Reach 4 Life? To prevent kids from becoming another
statistic, and to help them discover Christ.
"The inclusion of God in the equation of transforming
behavior in a profound and sustained way is critical to our program. We try
to get these kids to say 'yes' to God: in other words to become Christians, and
then to say 'no' to the virus after that because they now have the power to
live a moral life. The Gospel and our prevention program go very much together,"
To help with the program, American teens and college
students have traveled to South Africa. In fact, just recently a team of
students from Oauchita Baptist University traveled there, not only encouraging
abstinence but also sharing Christ with the South African students.
When kids make decisions for Christ, Biblica helps them remain strong in their faith through a year-long discipleship program which
connects them with a local church and gets them into the Word of God. Biblica also distributes
New Testaments which include material about HIV/AIDS and 40
Bible studies students can use if they choose to become involved in Biblica's
As American students reach out to South African youth, Bishop
said both parties benefit: "They sponsor a year's program that's added on
to the cost of their trip over there, and it's quite symbiotic because we get
the funding for those three or four schools that they participate in, and they
get the third world mission exposure."
In addition, the experience of American students during their short-term
trip can help them decide if they want to come back on a long-term basis.
Funding numerous projects is possible because of how affordable
the program is. Bishop said it costs just $3 per New Testament, and then an
additional $6 covers the cost of a student to go through the year-long program.
Therefore, $9 sponsors a South African student in the program for an entire year.
Pray that students will open their hearts to Christ and will commit to live moral lives for Him.