Monday, May 28, 2007

HIV & the Swirl of Hope

Yesterday was one of those great Sundays! MCC reverted to its one-service summer schedule, so all who worshiped were together in one space with no time-crunch hurrying the service along. During the service we interviewed the woman next to me; Olipa Chimageni, from Malawi. Oplia is a 28 year old single mother of 2 children, one of whom has tested positive for HIV. She is both HIV positive and out-of-the-closet in her family, community and church. Jeff Witten, from World Vision, brought her to our church, and the other woman in the picture, Ethel, to El Montecito Presbyterian Church with Rev.Harold Bussel.
This shy-flower of a woman brought a tremendous testimony of both brokennes and hope. her world crashed when she fo,und out that she was HIV positive through her husband, who then abandoned the family, leaving her to fend for herself.
Through World Vision, Olipa was connected to a support group of healthy women, who practice positive, active health steps along with an ARV drug regimen. Her word to me, in my office with Jeff was: "Having and Jesus means hope!" And she meant it.
In the afternoon, I made a hospital call on a woman valiantl fighting cancer. Gaunt, thin, tired, with tubes coming out of her, I told Olipa's story to her and her husband, translating it a little by ending "Having cancer and Jesus, means hope!" Tears streamed down both their cheeks with this wonderful reminder of the hope we are privileged to know.
That same night I had a jail service at the county jail. This time I went to a new wing, a double men's unit in the basement. The air was fettid and the room was packet with men in prison blues or boxer shorts, all ages and races, some brilliantly tatooed all over their bodies. We gathered in the far end of one bunk room, plugged in the boom box and sang praise chorusses to the cd. Then I told them the Pentecost story from both Genesis 11 (Babel) and Acts 2. We talked about how the Holy Spirit fills time, space and our lives. And then, after praying for them, I told them Olipa's story and changed it a bit again ending: "Having a jail sentence and Jesus means hope." And a big tatooed guy began to shudder with tears, tears of hope.


At 1:15 PM , Blogger Kalon L said...

That is such a touching story Don. In Africa, in a hospital ward or in jail, there is this verity that having Jesus in our lives means hope. Sharing Olipa's story and her faith is special.


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