Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | February 8, 2011

HIV And The Church

Yesterday we spoke on the need to be pro-life in our Christian walk. Today, I want to dive into yet another unspoken topic that we are silently dealing with in the Church. HIV! Below is a quote from a site I was reading while gathering research on this topic.  The quote is mind-boggling. An area that you as a Christian have never delve into however with the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States, the church needs to hear the silent crys of some of their parishioners that are dealing with this very epidemic we are now in.

I met a 19 year old about eleven years ago.  He had been thrown from his home because he is gay, and he was having sex to survive in the rough streets of Los Angeles. He came to my testing center, just because he knew he had been at risk.  His johns would pay him more if they didn’t use a condom, and given his situation that was a good deal: more money meant a good night sleep at a motel. He had been beaten and taken advantage of when he slept on the streets.  As I told him his results he cried, as did I, I related to him in so many levels, yet he was going to have something that could not be changed. When I asked him if he was going to continue trading sex for money, given his status, he replied that someone out there did not care to give this to him, why should he…why should he. I still ask myself this. 

Gabriela Leon, Director of HIV Outreach

Before we dive into the spiritual aspect of this issue, let me first start out by giving you some facts that you might not know about.

1. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system and destroys or impairs their function. Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body’s ability to fend off infections and diseases

2. HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person; transfusions of contaminated blood; and the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments. It can also be transmitted between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

3. 33.4 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the vast majority of whom are in low- and middle-income countries.

4.  HIV/AIDS is the world’s leading infectious killer claiming—to date—more than 27 million lives. An estimated 2 million people die every year from HIV/AIDS.

5. More than 2 million children are living with HIV/AIDS, according to 2008 figures.

These are some staggering statistics. We have a problem on our hand. Since the number of infected people are so high, we are unknowingly bound to come in contact with someone facing this disease in our local assemblies. Most if not all Pentecostal church’s preach against all types of sin. We also preach of the numerous individuals that were delivered from sin and at times we even make mention of their sin in a sermon. We as Apostolics enjoy the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, but have we limited God’s healing power to just cancer (which also has no cure), diabetes, heart attacks and strokes? Those sicknesses (amongst others) are consistently heralded from the pulpit on how God has healed someone of that disease. When is the last time you’ve heard someone jump up and say they were healed from HIV (by God’s own hands)? Probably never! Why is that? These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves.

Lets go back to the quote that we read earlier at the top of this post. Here we have a young man who was thrown out of his home because of homosexuality. He is thrusted into the streets of Los Angeles and in order to survive he sold his body. Sometimes he used protection while other times he didn’t in order to make more money. He gets tested for HIV and finds out that he is positive. He leaves the HIV clinic upset and determined to continue on his slow path to destruction endangering anyone he comes in contact with.

Saints, what would you have done if this boy walked into your church one day and told you his story???? Would you get all heavenly minded and start “pleading the blood of Jesus and rebuking Satan” which would have no effect on this boys – mind, would you turn your nose up at him and walk away, or perhaps you’d just start quoting Acts 2:38 and attempt to get him to be baptised in Jesus Name immediately.

If we serve the Lord thy God that healeth us as the Word says He will, why do we limit God’s healing power to a select few diseases and others we don’t even speak of. Perhaps it’s because of HIV being a taboo subject in the church. Most holiness church’s don’t even have programs to assist individuals who are HIV positive. Probably because of lack of knowledge. Well Saints, as of today, we all have no excuse. The facts have been posted, the sinners story has been read, and its time for us to put an action plan together to reach the silent cry’s of a hurting people.

Let me set the record straight. GOD CAN AND STILL HEALS!!!!!!! Regardless of what man says, our Lord Jesus Christ is the master physician. That’s the first step in helping those who might be positive in your church. Recognizing that God’s healing virtues can and will touch the life of a HIV positive person.

Secondly, we must show the love and compassion that only the Holy Ghost can give. Check this out, the woman with the issue of blood had been bleeding for years. Because of her faith coupled with the compassion and love Jesus had toward her, she was able to be made whole. We must follow the example Jesus left us. With loving kindness have I drawn them. Dont assume how the person was infected. It might be a drug problem, it might be because of unprotected sex (hetero and/or homosexual) the person might also have been born with HIV and did nothing to cause this on themself. Keep that in mind. The same God that brings healing will also bring deliverance into the person’s life.

While individuals with HIV normally don’t get up and testify about their sickness, you just might find an individual who you have befriended in church or outside of church and they might come out and tell you their story in confidence. That will be your opportunity to show your love and compassion and take them to the scriptures advising them that God is able to heal them. In the meantime, find your local HIV clinic that you can put the person in touch with. They will need secular counsel as well as spiritual counsel. Pray with them, advise them that it is not God’s will for them to be depressed about the situation. Remind them that when they were born again, their past was blotted out and cast into the sea of forgetfulness. Pray with them in the Holy Ghost. If they are not saved, take them through the steps to salvation. This is a perfect time to be a witness to them.

Until we start to get more comfortable with the subject in the Holiness Church, keep your mouth shut! Speak to God and God alone about the issue if someone reveals to you their positive status. We don’t want to cause someone to feel uncomfortable in the house of the Lord.

Saints, we have to do better when it comes to conditions people are dealing with. We are so use to dealing with drugs, alcohol, adultery and fornication that we have left out sooooooooooooooooo many other situations people are dealing with. Lets make 2011 a holistic year. A year where we win so many souls to Christ regardless of the state that they are in. Christ blood is strong enough to cover even the most taboo subject of them all. The Holy Ghost’s power is not limited to just changing the lives of the drunkard, it covers every single situation that we dare not even speak of. We serve a powerful God and I think we forget that at times. We limit God to paying bills, providing food for us and helping us get gainful employment. Oh and lets not forget about God leading us to our new husband or wife.

I want to encourage everyone to get educated about HIV, stay educated about HIV, and if someone you know has HIV, win them with the love and compassion Christ gave you when He gave you the gift of the Holy Ghost. Its the bible way. Below are some helpful ways to remove the stigma of HIV in the Church:

  • Determine what attitudes, myths and fears prevent people from caring for those who are positive, and what keeps those who are positive from disclosing their status.
  • Make HIV personal to your congregation by having HIV positive men and women give their testimony. Dispel stigma by touching and hugging those who are positive.  Treat PLWHA like you would anyone else. Incorporate HIV positive people into every aspect of the life of your church.
  • Participate in the local AIDS walk, or start one in your community.  Set up a booth for your church at the AIDS walk and encourage volunteers to hand out water and refreshments.  Partner with a local AIDS Services Organization in projects that reflect shared values.
  • Start a support group for people who are infected with or directly affected by HIV. A support group is just a regularly-scheduled, biblically based meeting where people can share their stories, find connections, learn new skills, and be accepted in a Christ-centered environment. (HIV And The Church)

Responses

  1. PRAISE THE LORD, I UNAPOLOGETICALLY AGREE THAT MANY SAINTS DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO DO IN SITUATIONS INVOLVING HIV/AIDS. THIS IS DUE TO A HOMOPHOBIC ATTITUDE AS WELL AS NOT HAVING THE TRAINING FROM OUR LEADERSHIP. IF THE SAME HOLY GHOST THAT EXISTED IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES HEALED ALL MANNER OF DISEASES, WHY IN MY FINITE BRAIN SHOULD I BELIEVE GOD HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN? NEVER MAY THAT HAPPEN. IT’S STILL ACCORDING TO OUR FAITH!!!

  2. I called a sister yesterday in Louisiana and was talking about this subject. I told Her I would rather be a backslider and go to Hell than Live as a Judgemental Christian and bust the gates of hell wide open. The Church had better wake up! Could Jesus visit your church or would he be turned away because of the company he kept while here on earth? Don’t call yourselves Apostolic and never leave the four walls of your churches.
    Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Luke 10:2 (KJV)

  3. Wow, the Lord sure gave you a hot one to teach on today Bro! This one has been a difficult one for me to handle. Not only because of preconceived ideas of others in the church, but my own preconceptions, too.

    It’s like imagining preachers & evangelists talking to us about us going out onto the highways and byways, compelling all the sinners to come into Father’s house for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Well, some of those sinners are prostitutes, hustlers, gangstas, gang-bangas, etc. While the preacher is preaching, we’re shouting and running the aisles – – but when a gangsta comes in for real and is looking for a life changing experience with the Lord Jesus it somehow becomes a totally different experience for us! The same is true of people with HIV.

    One of the things the church has do to is get rid of the idea that HIV is a “gay thing.” Ministering on the streets of Detroit (and I’m sure you see this in Atlanta), I first-handedly know that HIV now seems to be more of a problem with drug addicted people of color (in particular mothers and babies) than with “upwardly mobile” homosexual men.

    But even if those that grace the thresholds of our churches DO happen to be homosexual men with the full blown disease of AIDS does not lessen us from our responsibilities as Christians.

    Paranoia and half truths and sometime outright lies from church leadership that should know better than to spread such nonsense helps nothing.

    Sin is sin, and sinners should be called on their sins in order that they may properly repent of them; However, to “make” certain sins political platform issues and more “vile” than others and teach people to actually have distaste for those that desperately need the Lord is wrong…wrong…wrong. That, my friend, is sin in itself.

    Saying “hello” and having good manners around a sinner does not mean you approve of his lifestyle. Casting judgment upon him, being angry and telling him the reason thy the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed was because of his personal sins I doubt very highly are going to woo him to the cross of Calvary.

  4. I think we need to deal with more of why our members are getting HIV. there are a few movies that our good for our leaders to watch “All of Us” and on “the Downlow”.

  5. With all due respect “just a member”, this is not really about “membership” and why “membership” is getting HIV. Reading a book on being “down low” keeps the stigma going that HIV is just a homosexual disease that men get. Here is what we need to do:

    Toss the books out concerning WHO is getting HIV and WHY. Instead focus on the fact that since they DO have it, how can we help you stay healthy, and live an undefeated life through Christ our Lord. When one totaly submits themselves to biblical truth, it will cause the individual to live the life of a victor.

    Next we need to be accepting of all. Was Jesus accepting of all? Did He surround Himself with all in hopes His holiness would rub off on them and make everyone He came in contact with CHANGE? Did He not heal ALL disease and those that were oppressed by the devil? Did He not say we would have the same power that He has and do greater works? These are questions that we must ponder. Finally focus on prevention. Abstinence until marriage is the only option for a single person. For a heterosexual married couple and only heterosexual, the use of condoms should be permitted in order to make sure the husband or wife does not pass along the disease to their married partner.

    Simply stated, those that have been born of water and spirit have the power on the inside to be compassionate, loving, accepting and CHANGE MAKERS!!!!!! We accept the person and their situation not the sin. All souls are eligible for God’s saving grace. Regardless of HOW you get the disease, you still have a chance to repent, get baptised in His name, receive the Holy Ghost, and live with total victory over your past.

    Change starts today. Work while its day children, for when night cometh no man can work.

  6. I would just like to say that the posting by Gabriela Leon really brings up a topic that very rarely gets addressed in the Apostolic Assembly. Being brought up in the “church” from a very early age, Homosexuality appears to be looked down at and ridiculed compared to other “sins” like drug addiction, alcoholism,adultery, prostitution. Many times I’ve heard Ministers and Preachers delivering sermons make comments about gay people as “sissies, girlie, kinda funny, etc. Instead of being compassionate about people who at times can’t control the way they feel or who they are attracted to, they are belittled and made fun of. In turn, that person may turn away from attending services and seeking the Lord because of the shame being compounded into them. It may be bad enough that person may already be having a really hard time trying to deal with him or her self.We all know that gay men are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, but other non-gay people do become infected also. I believe the the Church needs to be re-educated about this issue. The year is 2011 not 1975. Until than, I believe Christian people need to take a good hard look at themselves if they are only willing to be sympathetic and compassionate toward only a certain type of “sinner” while ignoring another.


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