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Mark 1:40-41“And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.”

Every year December 1 has been declared World AIDS Day and I believe as we approach the end of 2016 the world will not (on that day) be celebrating the disease, but commemorating it.

HIV and AIDS is one element which has infected most of us and affected all of us. I have 980 friends on my Facebook page and out of these a staggering 196 are living with the condition. It is my appeal to the rest of my friends not to stigmatise those who are unfortunate enough to be in my “196”.

And it is my appeal to my “196” not to stigmatise themselves. HIV does not at all reduce the value of a human being. It is just an ordinary disease like cancer, pneumonia and cholera. Perhaps the only difference is that it is affecting us at an alarming rate.

And now, back to the scripture mentioned above, which verse is plucked from the book of Mark where Jesus heals a Leper…

What is worth noting here is that “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him.” Jesus touched someone who was considered unclean! Even the bible supported this view:

Leviticus 13:45-46 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

Leviticus 5:3 Or if he touches human uncleanness – whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled and he is unaware of it - when he realises it, then he shall be guilty.

Please keep this thought in mind, as we will refer to it later on in our discussion.

I would like to see HIV and AIDS as the Leprosy of our day. Back in the Biblical times Leprosy was a dreaded ailment and those who had it were greatly prejudiced.

I will refer to the story of Job who had leprosy (a skin disease) and his friends accused him of disobeying God. They saw the Leprosy as punishment from God for anyone who disobeyed him. That is the same situation today. I have felt so uncomfortable during several church services here in Oshana in which the preacher presents AIDS as God’s tool against an adulterous generation.

I have heard statements like: “God first sent private Gonorrhoe, but we did not take heed. Now he has sent field marshal  HIV/AIDS.”

AIDS is presented as God’s weapon. It is viewed as a tool God loves so much to use to get his people in line. There are common statements like “So and so was promiscous and finally God sent his field marshal on him and now they are coming to us asking for us to pray for them…. God forbid!!!! You are reaping what you sow!!!!”

Some preachers have the audacity to quote scriptures to support their view. For instance, they are so quick to read from the book of Galations 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Then there is a class of preachers who want to scare the hell (or is it sin) out of the saints using this HIV/AIDS gimmick and they go: “Sin will certainly catch up with you! God is not mocked! AIDS is going to sort you out!”

We also have church members whose first question whenever they discover that someone is HIV positive is: “Who sinned? How did the person get the virus?”

Who sinned? God help us! Is this enquiry into who did what ever going to solve the problem we have before us? No! In my humble opinion and in my walk with Jesus, God has not presented himself to me as a vengeful God, or a God who is up in heaven with a giant whip getting everyone in line and whipping the sin out of anyone who gets out of line!

On the contrary, God has presented himself as a loving and compassionate God, who will leave 99 sheep in search of one lost sheep. The parable doesn’t tell us that the shepherd set wolves on the lost sheep so that it would return to the flock! No-o-o! We serve a gracious God.

I will refer to the words of Jonah in Jonah 4:2 “...for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”

This is the God we serve! A graceful God! And the Church should be that as well. The church shouldn’t be a place where my “196” should be discriminated against by being told that they are serving God’s death penalty. Rather, it should be a place of hope for the hopeless. It should be a lighthouse for the world.

Imagine you are in a ship and you encounter a violent storm, shipwrecked and without hope, hanging on a floating piece of wood, thinking that all is lost then all of a sudden you see a flicker of light!

It’s a LIGHTHOUSE! What joy feels your heart? You can’t wait to get to the lighthouse because your hope is rekindled. Where there once was gloom and doom, now there is HOPE. A church should be like that, and not a place where more doom is piled onto an already hopeless person.

And for the record, it is not everyone who got HIV or AIDS from being promiscuous. Remember we have congregants and persons who got the disease from their spouses and then we have innocent children who are born with the disease.

A Theological Perspective