Zambia’s HIV/AIDS crisis steals the future; hope restores

By January 12, 2011

Zambia (MNN) — In Zambia, more
than one in every seven adults has HIV/AIDS with roughly 200 new infections a
day. 

In 2009, nearly 76,000 adults
were newly infected with HIV. That same
year, according to the United Nations, there were 690,000 AIDS orphans.

Rody Rodeheaver with IN Network says, "They're left to either fend for themselves on the
street, or they're left with someone who becomes a caretaker, who may already
have their hands full."

Thousands are abandoned over stigma or a lack
of resources, while others run away because they have been mistreated and
abused by foster families to search out their fortunes on the streets.

The devastation of AIDS
overshadows every aspect of life in Zambia, casting gloom over the massive
growth of evangelical churches. What
future will the country have if this trend continues?

If IN
Network has anything to say about it, it will be a future of hope. Rodeheaver
says the Misaka Home, now four years old, provides a place for orphans and
vulnerable children to be loved, fed, and educated. "It provides food for them, helps pay their
school fees, and gets them a uniform so we can get them into school. It helps
our staff provide some food for these children and for whoever their caretaker
is." The goal is to have 300
children sponsored in Misaka.

When a child
is sponsored at $32 a month, there's a personal impact in his/her life. It's an investment in the future, explains
Rodeheaver. "We're introducing them to
Christ; we're sharing the good news of the Gospel. For many of these children,
they need hope even beyond just the food and the tennis shoes. Those are very
important, and the education is very important, but we also need to share
Christ with them."

It also
provides the foundation of relationship. Once the kids are in a program, the indigenous church can build into the
lives of the children and their families. Accountability and love are strong cement that needs to be poured in
early. "In building these relationships with these younger kids, we hope that
they will find either education or a trade that allows them to become
self-sufficient."

The IN Network team in Zambia
begins with discipleship, training, and empowering young men and women to be
leaders in their communities. But it doesn't stop there. They also work hard to spread the truth about
how HIV is spread so that people will not unknowingly put themselves and their
children at risk. Hope can affect an
entire village.

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