A GFA–supported pastor speaks to the media about GFA's efforts to make his community aware about AIDS.
An estimated 2.4 million people in India suffered with HIV in 2007, according to the United Nations* and the World Health Organization. Knowing that so many are struggling with this deadly disease spurred Gospel for Asia workers to create a public awareness and education campaign to help stop the spread of AIDS.
All across India, students and staff members from Bible colleges and Bridge of Hope centers, along with Women's Fellowship team members, spent World AIDS Day educating people about the disease. Knowing that many are unaware of the causes and dangers of AIDS, they used December 1 as an opportunity to reach out to their communities as an expression of Christ's love.
Taking Initiative Where No One Had
Bible college students and staff in Delhi visited four villages and showed two films—one on AIDS awareness and another on hand washing.
A young man reads the AIDS awareness tract he received.
"The response from the crowds who gathered was overwhelming," a GFA correspondent reported. "In some places, we screened the movies twice based on people's requests."
The documentary on hand washing was very informative since most of the viewers were unaware that one can become very ill with many common diseases by ignoring this basic hygiene principle. They watched with interest, and many of them asked questions afterwards.
In two of the villages, the majority of the people had never received any formal education and could not read. In these places, staff members gave informative talks before showing the film.
"The villagers were very thankful and deeply indebted to GFA for taking the initiative to make them aware of the hazards of this disease and the way it spreads," commented our correspondent. "In one of the villages the residents were appreciative, as no one had ever taken any initiative to teach them the benefits of hand washing and the knowledge of AIDS."
Bridge of Hope children enjoyed marching in AIDS awareness rallies.
Caring for the Children
In Karnataka, local GFA Women's Fellowship members ministered to 35 HIV-infected children being cared for by Catholic nuns in an institution. The GFA women taught the children songs, stories and cultural dances and prayed for them. They also brought rice and candy for the children.
In other villages in Karnataka, GFA workers conducted programs where doctors spoke to the parents of children in Bridge of Hope centers.
Bridge of Hope children and staff also marched in rallies and handed out hundreds of Gospel tracts that focused on AIDS awareness.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the children and staff of a Bridge of Hope center walked through several villages holding banners and posters about the causes and prevention of AIDS.
The children eagerly shouted out slogans to educate the people in these communities about the AIDS epidemic.
"We want to thank God for His grace and mercy that helped us to successfully complete this AIDS Day awareness rally without any hindrances," a GFA field correspondent shared. "We are grateful to the Lord for His love and His protection that we could experience through our march."
In West Bengal, the Indian Red Cross warmly welcomed the GFA Women's Fellowship sisters for their outreach and served them refreshments.
City Official, Indian Red Cross Offer Help
In West Bengal, Women's Fellowship members organized a two-hour rally. More than 150 women, including pastors' wives, took part.
Media representatives came to photograph and film the rally. When interviewed about the purpose for the rally, the women replied that they want to save their society and country from AIDS.
The women joined staff members from the Indian Red Cross when they visited an area known for prostitution to provide teaching about the dangers of this deadly disease.
The women were also able to meet with a local city official, who was very happy about how they had reached out in the community that day. He promised to help the women set up similar programs to provide AIDS awareness in other areas.
In some places, skits drew crowds to raise AIDS awareness.
Support of Local Authorities
In Andhra Pradesh, Bible college students and staff covered nearly 10 miles carrying banners in an AIDS awareness march. Along the route, they gave out Gospel tracts and leaflets highlighting how AIDS is spread. The students performed skits, which attracted a crowd, and the staff spoke on how to prevent AIDS.
"Altogether the program went well, and God helped our people to share the Gospel and raise awareness about AIDS," a GFA correspondent wrote.
GFA leaders in India ask for prayer for their country:
- That the educational materials would help the people who received them.
- That the rallies and other AIDS awareness initiatives would help people see that Christians care for them and that they will want to know more about Christ's love.
- That the Lord will break through and loosen the grip of AIDS on India.
*Courtesy of the Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections published by the United Nations.