By Milton Jones
Can you imagine the headlines if a Boeing 747 crashed today? What if 18 747s went down instead? Can you envision the publicity of such a tragedy? And yet the equivalent number of people needed to fill 18 747s will die today from AIDS, the majority of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.* And the greater tragedy is that the same number will die tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa is the largest the world has ever seen. In response to this incredible tragedy, a tithe of the total offerings received at the 2006 North American Christian Convention was given to help bring relief to this health crisis.
Twenty-eight years ago, a team of missionaries from Christian churches and noninstrumental churches of Christ started working together in Kitale, Kenya. They worked together displaying the unity that became the theme of the 2006 NACC. This team not only planted churches but also started schools, orphanages, and relief works. Following in their steps, in 2005 another team from both sides of the keyboard moved to Kitale from Seattle to continue this effort.
Christian churches and churches of Christ are growing immensely in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the Christians there are not receiving the education, testing, and treatment needed to combat the AIDS dilemma. As a result, a new effort to build voluntary counseling and testing centers is being started by the team in Kitale under the direction of the Christian Relief Fund.
Their first center will be planted in Kisumu, the place of greatest HIV prevalence in Kenya. The NACC tithe will help build this center. The land for this center has been purchased. The team will not be there long-term, so it has initiated the training of seven Africans under the direction of Jared Odhiambo to run the center. Construction of the building will begin in 2007.
Already members of Christian churches and churches of Christ are supporting, feeding, and schooling children in this area. But in the future we will be bringing not only a great work of unity but also a long-lasting treatment center for victims of this unnerving disaster.
*An estimated 2.8 million died from AIDS in 2005. For more information about the new testing center in Kenya, contact Christian Relief Fund, P.O. Box 19670, Amarillo, TX 79114-1670; (800) 858-4038; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton Jones is preaching minister with Northwest Church of Christ, Shoreline, Washington.