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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Voiceless Wednesdays--The AIDS Epidemic

UPDATE: I forgot to include the link for Voice for the Voiceless when I first posted this. To learn more about this project or for information on ordering your own copy of this powerful devotional, please visit http://www.uofnkap.org/F07/F07featuredmin.php

AIDS
Definition: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a serious, fatal disease of the immune system contracted through blood transfusions, sexual contact or contaminated needles. There is no known cure for it.

This week, I want you to read these statistics carefully. Don't allow your eyes to skip over them. Read them and think about each fact carefully. It is important to grasp the vastness of this epidemic and understand the impact it is having on our world, on God's creation.

Statistics:
*AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981--more than four Jewish holocausts or 22 Rwandan genocides.
*In 2005, every minute there were 10 newly infected people worldwide.
*Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
*43% of those infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) are women.
*There are 40.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 1/3 are between the ages of 15-24.

How This Touches My Life:
My father died of AIDS in 1993. I was just barely twenty. He had not been a part of my life for almost 10 years. His family called us to tell us he had cancer...just cancer, no mention of anything else. My seventeen year old brother and I flew to Florida to see him once more. I'll never forget walking into his house and seeing him lying on that bed. I knew immediately that he had AIDS. His shrunken frame and lesioned skin told the story. His family avoided talking about it...just kept saying he had cancer. I kept screaming in my head, "Cancer caused my AIDS!"
They couldn't face the consequences of his life of sin. They couldn't see the truth. But, I saw. I knew.
He spoke of having us return in the spring to visit again. He held our hands and stroked our faces. His gaunt face and sunken eyes told a story of regret. He knew, too. He and we had paid a terrible price for his selfishness. His choices had ripped our family apart and he was now standing on the brink of eternity grasping with his weak, pale hands for anything of comfort.
I sobbed, "I love you, Daddy" as we left the house the next day, knowing I would never see him again, never know him at all, knowing he would never know me.
He died two days later.
His death certificate read, "Cause of Death: Complications due to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."

His death was a death of choice. He chose to leave us. He chose to live a life of self.
Not everyone who dies of AIDS has a choice...so many are infected out of violence, ignorance, heredity. We can choose to pray. To pray for God's mercy and to pray for His intervention in this epidemic.

Lord, Thank You for reminding us all of the suffering happening throughout Your world. Have mercy on the victims of AIDS, whatever the reason they have contracted it. Send missionaries to share the Gospel in communities where there is no understanding of Christ or Your plan for families. Show mercy to countries without the resources to purchase HIV drugs. Purify our hearts, Lord.
And, thank You for my Dad. I know You chose Him to be my earthly Dad, though I do not yet see clearly why things have worked out as they have. I trust You and in Your plan to prosper me and care for me. You are an awesome God and I thank You for carrying me through difficult times. Comfort the families of those suffering and living with HIV/AIDS.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

3 comments:

Ann said...

Wow, Jen, thanks for sharing about your dad. I knew he passed away when you were in college, but not his story. (((Hugs))) and thanks for raising our awareness.

Nina said...

I thank you for sharing this story and am thankful for the strength that Father God has given you. The Father God who loves you and cherishes you. The Father God that is faithful, kind, generous and righteous. The Father God whose grace is sufficient.

Jen said...

Thanks, friends, for the encouragement...God is using you both!