South African church tackles HIV/AIDS

By April 12, 2006

South Africa (MNN) — A church in South Africa is now hitting the HIV/AIDS issue in their community head-on. Purpose Driven Ministries is using this church as an example to other churches around the world as part of their P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

The heart of Pastor Titus Sithole of the Charity and Faith Mission Church in Mamelodi Township softened when a member of his congregation announced she was infected with HIV.

Since then, he’s been addressing the implications of HIV/AIDS. He’s been teaching sermons like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Sex, Jesus the Healer, Taking Care of Orphans, and How to Care for Terminally Ill Patients. After every service, the church offers HIV testing and counseling.

He and his wife even adopted a child who had been orphaned through AIDS.

As a result of the three-month emphasis, church members’ attitudes toward HIV/AIDS changed. People with AIDS were brought to the church and found love and acceptance. Others who learned they were HIV positive joined support groups started by the church and learned to accept their status. The support groups include church members and others from the community, and they meet for three hours every Saturday. “These groups have helped each other to face and deal with the challenge of HIV/AIDS,” Sithole says.

As more and more HIV-positive individuals began to show signs of AIDS, the church started a home-based care ministry for the terminally ill. To address that need, they have opened a 140-bed hospice that soon will begin receiving its first patients. They plan to provide free care and free burial services.

Recently, the church has started building the first of five orphanage houses that eventually will house a total of 90 children.

As members of Charity and Faith Mission Church minister to those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, they’re working to prevent the spread of the disease. “Our staff is going to schools, workplaces, churches, and other institutions educating people about HIV/AIDS,” Sithole said. “Every November we do a door-to-door campaign.”

With death almost certain, church involvement in the HIV/AIDS problem is essential. Sharing the Gospel with them may be their only hope.

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