June 23, 2019
How would you celebrate your 50th anniversary? Last year, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), a PC(USA) partner church, promoted free HIV testing at all of the events celebrating its 50th anniversary. FJKM President Irako Andriamahazosoa Ammi was tested publicly last August. Over 40,000 people were educated about HIV and AIDS, and 2,000 were tested during six events.
In addition to promoting HIV testing, FJKM trains all of its pastoral students about HIV and AIDS. In a country where the education level is very low and most rural people have little access to news and the internet, pastors are among the most educated and respected members of their communities. It is important that pastors understand the basics about HIV and AIDS. They are then well placed to help their congregations and communities reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS and to fight against discrimination.
Another exciting way the FJKM fights the spread of HIV and AIDS is by training youth peer educators in FJKM schools. This past spring, the FJKM Development Department and FJKM AIDS Committee trained 40 middle and high school students in northern Madagascar. These youth returned to their schools to share with their peers about how to avoid the dangers of drugs, early pregnancy and illnesses like HIV and AIDS. They also learned skills in long-term planning and setting goals so that they will have a better chance of making sound biblical decisions when faced with pressures and temptations.
UNAIDS notes that “the global AIDS response is at a precarious point — partial success in saving lives and stopping new HIV infections is giving way to complacency.” The FJKM is an excellent example of a group that has not given into complacency even in the face of political crisis and reduced funding.
Working with the FJKM in its fight against HIV/AIDS as a PC(USA) mission co-worker has been a great joy for me. The PC(USA) has faithfully supported FJKM’s efforts to train pastors, produce educational materials, provide HIV testing and train youth peer educators. Together, we are helping to fight the spread of AIDS in Madagascar and providing a powerful witness of God’s love.
If you’d like to learn about the ways your congregation can help respond to HIV/AIDS, visit pcusa.org/toolkits/hiv-aids.
Elizabeth Turk, Mission Co-Worker serving in Madagascar, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: PC(USA) World AIDS Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
God of life, we pray for those in our community and around the world who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. We pray that our church may be a place of compassion and protection for those in desperate need of healing. Amen.