AIDS and Youth

Grace and Light a ministry that is helping churches to embrace PLWHA with unconditional care and love and in effective prevention that does not undermine the historic teaching of the church on sin and redemption was recently at a JC sponsored youth camp. The youth camp whose theme was “AIDS and Youth”, was attended by 100 youths representing 27 churches from Chifubu. The Director of Grace and Light, Pastor Maybin Mwaba who was the featured speaker told the youths that the church is called to be helpful, to care and to love those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. He further talked to them on the importance of knowing their HIV and AIDS status. He told the youths, “Safe sex is for people who know their status and are married for life.” After sharing with them how people are infected with HIV and AIDS he then challenged the youths to go for HIV and AIDS test.

Seventy youths responded. Pastor Mwaba was relieved to see that all the 70 young people tested were free from HIV and AIDS. Pastor Mwaba was however, concerned that most young people were initially too scared to be tested. He sensed that their fright was because they were sexually active. Whether Pastor Mwaba’s analysis is right or wrong, we need to celebrate the fact that these young people took the courage to be tested. More importantly, we need to celebrate the fact that 70 youths tested are free from HIV and AIDS – there is hope for our nation. The question now is what can the church do? How can it help these youths to make a difference in their faith and local community!

First, each church must form clubs of young people who make a commitment to abstain from sex until they are married. These clubs can be run by a young couple who have been trained to provide help for young people to live life to the full in Christ. The help will include how to discover God’s plan for them and how to develop godly character and long-term planning. Other helps for young people can include training in business skills and supporting them through micro loans. Second, each church must mobilize and train a team of volunteers who will provide biblical counseling and practical help to those affected and infected with HIV and AIDS. Practical help can include provision of appropriate food, the treatment and dressing of minor wounds and empowerment in income generating activities.

So often the church’s response to AIDS is that it is a sexual sin. Yet in our response we can easily lose sight of God’s mercy, love and forgiveness. We can equally forget the reality that we have so many who are infected through actions of others rather than their own behavior. We can also lose sight of the fact that because most of our youths in the church are not infected it does not mean they are not committing sex sins. Let our youths know that we care by coming up with programs that encourage transparency, accountability and that enable them to do something that they live life to the full (John 10:10). As we give thanks to God for the ministry of care and prevention of Grace and Light, let also pray for our local church that it be relevant to the challenges of AIDS and sex sins in the lives of our youths.

Lawrence Temfwe