How can we support the sisters and brothers in Christ, the programs, and the churches that we have met? How can we encourage Presbyterians individually and collectively to engage in ministries that respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic? These are questions for the participants in the travel/study seminar individually and as a group.
Wednesday evening, Doug Tilton, PC(USA) Regional Liaison for Southern Africa who works with the South African Council of Churches, offered three broad answers to this question–answers that may provide a helpful framework as participants seek to discern God’s call and respond with specific ministries.
There is a ministry of encouragement that cannot be underestimated. We engage in this ministry through our visits and in our prayers.
There is a ministry involved in acknowledging common problems. In the United States as in the countries we visit, issues related to responding to HIV/AIDS are unique and shared at the same time. There is inclusiveness, stigma, discrimination, prejudice, and how we build a church that is a balm to God’s children. Knowing that we face common issues strengthens us as we do so and provides an opportunity for new insights.
There is a ministry of being a catalyst–a ministry of being present, providing resources, and asking questions–that can move along opportunities for initiating ministry or enhancing mission. As we build ongoing relationships with our partners, we create platforms for sustainability that will keep ministries going. Together we can watch for the opportune moments when the Holy Spirit says "move." Together we can discern how to move. Together we can move. And together, by God’s grace, we can keep moving.
Photo by Joy Gaska