While in Belgium, I read a short book written by Shane Stanford. It is his personal story. How the diagnosis of HIV+ affected his life and those lives around him. At the time that he was diagnosed, it was pretty much a death sentence.
Oh, how I wish we could spread the truth of this disease quickly to the world. The unnecessary hurt and isolation that accompanies this diagnosis could be greatly alleviated. But where to start? I guess it comes back to one person at a time, one church at a time, one community at a time. It’s sad to say that not even all medical workers understand how the disease is spread or not. So who’s teaching the patients and their families? And their friends? Thankfully, much information is now available online. But how do you determine what’s true or not? Patients will certainly seek out the truth, but will our churches? Are our churches safe places for HIV+ folks to come in…and be real? Is the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS ever going to be reduced? Will we continue to THINK we know the facts and yet not take the time to learn them?
Some of the author’s toughest moments came as he was approaching his own ordination…which meant he would be assigned to a church…but what if they wouldn’t accept an HIV+ pastor. The team determining whether to ordain him or not had some soul-searching questions to answer for themselves.
Fortunately, Shane Stanford had some strong advocates. Not to mention a calling to the ministry, an uncompromising work ethic, and obvious people skills. (These same pluses became minuses when he began to try to ‘prove’ that he was a good choice as a pastor. Workaholics don’t make the best pastors…or husbands…or fathers.)
When I think back on what I read, I am struck by the family support — particularly his grandfather who was devastated by the diagnosis. His wisdom helped carry Shane through the teen years and beyond. I get frustrated, even angry, by the attitude of some people…even healthcare workers. Prejudiced. I am thankful for his advocates on several different levels.
And I think about Alina.
Nine years old. HIV+. Kidneys destroyed by TB so she has lived at a hospital for 3 years to receive dialysis every other day. Mother died. Father deserted. Only chance of a transplant is from a family donor with the operation taking place in another country — aunt doesn’t want to ‘put her through anymore.’ What?!?! No transplant = certain death.
Obviously this little girl needs an advocate. A noisy unrelenting one.
Jim has tried numerous ways to locate doctors/hospitals to take on this precious life. But, to no avail. Still looking. Can’t quit. This book has reminded me to keep speaking out on her behalf. To keep her story out there. To allow Him to use people I may not even yet know to come to her rescue.
Please pray with us. We know that God is not surprised by any of this, and that He will use this episode to His glory…somehow. May He use us as instruments in His hands.
And may we be quick to give Him all the honor and glory.